Apr 20, 2011

World's Best Restaurant 2011

Posted Apr 20, 2011

According to the S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, Denmark's Noma is the world's best restaurant of 2011. It is certainly worth noting that this is Noma's second consecutive year to win the award. The Scandinavian restaurant is headed by chef René Redzepi. He focuses on Nordic cuisine.

Noma's food is not considered traditional but more of an interpretation of the Nordic cuisine, says in Wikipedia. Just how radical it is I do not know, but reading that dishes can include radishes in edible soil is certainly eye-catching.

I became more curious when I read that type of food is influenced by Molecular Gastronomy. I wonder what it's like to dine in the world's finest restaurant. I hope I can eat there at some point in my life.

Apr 19, 2011

Apple Sues Samsung... Next?!

Posted Apr 19, 2011

You may want to hate this:

"When a Samsung Galaxy phone is used in public, there can be little doubt that it would be viewed as an Apple product based upon the design alone,"

The above line is part of the Apple's lawsuit against Samsung. I was reading articles regarding the lawsuit and I smirked when I read that particular statement. Here's another statement from the lawsuit:

"Rather than innovate and develop its own technology and a unique Samsung style for its smart phone products and computer tablets, Samsung chose to copy Apple's technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products."

When I first saw a Samsung Galaxy Phone, I certainly did not mistakenly think that it's an iPhone, even more so when I actually used it. Neither does Galaxy Tab look like an iPad, but even if it does, how would you make it look different? Maybe shape it like a triangle, duh! What about the touch interface from Android? They should develop an interface similar to Microsoft's Kinect so users won't have to touch the device to interact with it.

I find this move hypocritical since they themselves copied product designs and innovations for their product line. And to think Apple products use Samsung components, I wonder how this legal battle will affect their relationship.

Samsung's reply to the allegation:

"Samsung’s development of core technologies and strengthening our intellectual property portfolio are keys to our continued success. Samsung will respond actively to this legal action taken against us through appropriate legal measures to protect our intellectual property,"

On a similar note, Apple also sued HTC and Motorola for the similar reasons of patent violation. Is this business bullying some kind of disease? Is Apple really that affected by Google's Android to the point that it throws out lawsuits to everyone who's related to it? They arguably made the touch screen, the "smart" phone, and the tab very famous but they shouldn't act as if they invented them.

Many articles said this lawsuit spree is reminiscent of the battle for Graphical User Interface (GUI) among Apple, Microsoft and Xerox back in the late 80's. It's also interesting to read about the history of GUI and what happened in the battle for its ownership.


Apr 13, 2011

Site Optimization

Posted Apr 13, 2011

A little background first. I use Picasa Web Albums (PWA) 's several REST-ful API's for mvergel.com's gallery. Basically I query what I need to PWA and it returns an xml feed that can be parsed by gdata library.

The problem now is that there are several key areas where this web application starts to struggle:

  1. Java web application start-up
    Unlike its Python counterpart, Java has a significant start-up time, worse, Google App Engine (GAE) shuts the Virtual Machine down when there is no-one accessing your site.

    Previously (or even up to now), the workaround is to constantly ping your site to simulate web access. This, however, makes a considerable performance hit to GAE since it will eat resources up if most developers perform this quick-fix.

    GAE recognized this problem and announced an official feature to fix this problem starting version 1.4.0. It's called the Always On feature. This solution will cost developers $0.30 a day in their billing, which is not a bad price, but I opt to keep my personal charity website as cost-effective as possible so I didn't avail for this feature.

  2. Getting contents from Picasa
    This is the highlight of my recent site optimization. The new version of the site already implements a cache instead of always getting the information from Picasa. The original idea was to cache the xml feeds. It worked on my local server, but once deployed to GAE, an error was thrown regarding SSL handshake. I found an issue in their buglist about this problem but could not wait for a fix that time.

    I resorted to a new implementation: storing each album and picture data on my server. This is more tedious compared to just storing the whole xml cache, but it worked for me. The overall responsiveness of the gallery is better.

Still, when accessing the site for the first time, it's still bounded to the Java application start-up I mentioned in #1. Is $0.30/day worth it to remove that the start-up time (around 2-3 seconds)?

Apr 11, 2011

Niche Blogging

Posted Apr 11, 2011

I've been contemplating for a while if I should proceed with a niche blog. Niche blogging contains articles for a particular market area or you've guessed it, "niche". Much like Engadget or our very own Yugatech here in the Philippines. It is particularly useful if you want to share your knowledge or passion to the world. I'd like the idea of passion coming in because I believe a blogger who has passion won't base his or her success on monetary income.

Although I have specific likes, I'm still confused which one to focus on. My top 3 topics of choice would be gadgets, food, and programming.

Blogging about gadgets is possibly costly. Famous gadget bloggers already have sponsors, or enough money flow from their website to buy the product and test it. I do buy my gadgets, but not enough to blog daily about it. Of course you can read reviews made by others and compile them but I don't know, it would feel, hmm less credible? Anyway the target audience for this would be us gadget freaks and I know we are huge in numbers.

Food! I love eating. It is probably the most common thing we humans share. But beyond eating, I love to discover good food. The good thing about food is it's everywhere; could be cheap, just right, or downright expensive. Unlike gadgets, food can be localized like blogging where are the great restaurants here in the Philippines, here in Metro Manila, or even here in Pasig? One problem here is the competition since this is arguably the easiest topic to blog about. There are already a lot of food bloggers out there, and it's getting harder to separate one from the other. But since it's food, there are a lot of possible ways to make your blog unique. Target audience: The entire human race, it cannot get bigger or better than that (fine, argumentative). I have many friends who loves to eat good food, maybe I can invite them for a collaborative blogging :)

And finally, programming. I aimed for it when I was in high-school, studied it in college, and now it's my bread and butter. I'm passionate about it, I do it as a hobby (Nerd, I know), and regularly check what's happening in the world of software development. There are a lot of programming languages out there and you can't master them all. Target audience: Software developers of a specific field, which is relatively few.

It's hard to do a niche blog on your own, and I believe in collaboration to overcome this difficulty. Basing from the number of words on each topic I chose, I'm leaning towards food. Now, I'm hungry! :)

Apr 10, 2011

Haters gonna hate

Posted Apr 10, 2011
I'd hate it if Rebecca Black and Justin Bieber make a video together, but for sure it'll be a hit, and probably be the next most hated video on the internet!

You might ask, who is Rebecca Black? Watch the most hated video on the internet today. As of writing, her Youtube video has 1.89 million dislikes, a ~660,000 difference from Baby's 1.23 million.

Here is Conan's parody cleverly named "Thursday" of the faux pop star's video:

Apr 7, 2011

Will a Quick Charger Reduce Battery Life ( AA Nimh )

Posted Apr 7, 2011
I was hesitant to buy a quick charger because I thought It might quickly reduce the battery life of my rechargeable AA's. Quick research shows it is partly true! However, don't let it stop you from buying one. After reading an article about battery myths, I found out that a smart fast charger only differs by a small amount and might even be better than a slow (and not so smart) one. Why? Because it is more likely that you'll forget that you are charging for 10 hours compared to, say, two hours and overcharging reduces the life of batteries.

There can be a confusion what a "quick" charger means, reading Eneloop FAQ, it is stated under Can I use a "Quick Charger" to charge an eneloop battery? that a Quick charger is NOT recommended. The charger should be two hours or more. But I already consider two hours a very quick charger (compared to 10 hours or more!). Apparently there are really quick chargers that can be bought these days (e.g. 15 minutes!). These chargers are not recommended, maybe only for emergency. I am happy with a two-hour quick battery charger from Eneloop. Happy charging ;)