miércoles, 1 de junio de 2011

Review of “Data Analysis with Open Source Tools” by Philipp K. Janert

9:11 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios

An in-depth book on data analysis with graph tools.

bktFirst of all I have to state clear that this book has “run over me” SonrisaIt is a very good and comprehensive exercise by Mr Janert on how to produce “readable” graphs (read information) on top of massive data volumes, all with open source tools such as gnuplot, matplotlib, R, numpy, chaco, etc. So what has made it somehow hard for me? The fact that I mistook it for what it is not: this is not a book showing samples or “how-to” code that you can run easily on your app (HTML- or OS-based). Instead it goes much deeper than that, explaining the math that supports the data analysis, lots of the statistical theory underlying the data analysis processes, etc. Don’t get me wrong: I really think that’s great value! And thank Mr Janert for that. But given that I read the book during commutes or trips on my Kindle it’s been a bit “though” to be on the “thinking mode” that is required to fully appreciate the value of this book. So, if you plan to read it whilst at home or in a quiet place, giving it the care and attention if deserves I am sure you’ll find the book a great one.

There are also many good things about it too: the Workshops provided are very good step-by-step descriptions of the process taken by Mr Janert to solve them. Given that the subject of the book is dense, as said, this seems like the best idea to help understanding what has been talked about.

Many kinds of graphs (like  jitter plots, scatter, mosaic plots, kohonen maps, etc.)  and the logic underlying them (logarithms, pareto, regression, estimations, Monte Carlo simulation, etc.) are covered in this book. So I find it a great source of information that can be perfectly used as a superb reference book when developing a projects requiring graphical analysis tools on big volumes of data.

lunes, 14 de marzo de 2011

Review of O’Reilly Breakdown’s video “Offline Mobile Web Applications in HTML5” by David Griffiths

17:01 by Rafael Flores · 1 comentarios

The quick way to get a really fast knowledge on what HTML5 has to offer for those developing the new breed of HTML apps, both online and offline.


David Griffiths, senior IT author for O’Reilly, and Brett McLaughlin one of their senior editors, offer a very good and quick overview on the capabilities and benefits of using HTML5 to develop HTML-based applications which are not necessarily intended for an “always-connected” to Internet use.

First things first I have to say that I’ve been happily surprised by the very clear English both speakers talk. Given that the video is recorded such as if they were a couple of friends sharing a “learning afternoon”, it is very welcomed being able to understand both of them clearly and effortlessly (which sometimes is needed in some of the other videos of the O’Reilly Breakdown series I have to say).

Now, let’s get to it. The video is divided in 5 parts most of them about 20 minutes long:

  • Blue Collar HTML5, which provides and overview of the main new features of HTML5, how the different browsers behave when interpreting the code, etc.
  • Creating HTML5 forms, with more info on the new input capabilities of HTML5 and how they work between the different browsers (David makes a good work showing how each example works on Safari (webkit), Firefox (Mozilla), Opera…). So for example now we have new data types available (date, number, range…), some new properties for them (autofocus, required,…), etc.
  • Moving an App to the browser’s cache, or how to easily set up a web app to make use of caching capabilities provided by the web browser avoiding unneeded downloads, and force them if we want to! Also, how can we easily know if we are connected or not using events on our JavaScript code.
  • Caching data with local storage, showing the local storage capabilities that HTML5 provides, a “new and different” version of the cookies’ system that allows storing string-ified data in the browser’s PC (thankfully we can use JSON "stringify" and parse methods to help us with this).
  • Syncing local storage to a server, or how and what to do in order to make sure data entered whilst on- or off- line will be properly synched to a server, something really important for any serious enterprise-intended mobile app which can be easily done using HTML5 (timestamps, that’s the key).

One thing I’m missing is the possibility to download any sample code. Not much of a problem though since the example used is very simple and easy to follow. Nevertheless, it would be even easier having the code handy.

On the plus side, I liked the subtitles that have been added to the video that from time to time show valuable URL resources or tips that we can benefit from.

So briefly a recommended video to watch if you want to attain quick understanding of how HTMl5 can help when developing apps that might be connected to the Internet, or not. Not much samples nor code here, but some simple examples that show most of the important bits that must be considered (with very good explanations by David Griffiths).

jueves, 3 de marzo de 2011

InfoQ: Visualizing Agile Projects using Kanban Boards

8:42 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios

InfoQ: Visualizing Agile Projects using Kanban Boards
Muy buen artículo presentando diversas visiones del uso de Kanban según niveles así como de una herramienta (Trichord) desarrollada por Kenji Hiranabe y su equipo para gestionar estos "Kanban por niveles".

jueves, 10 de febrero de 2011

Review of Data Source Handbook by Pete Warden

12:29 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios

If you ever need a quick and short guide on web data sources that can be used (mostly) in any application to give it “top value”, this is the book for you.


Data Source Handbook

This is a very short but loaded guide on available Data Sources with information on Websites, People, Locations, Companies, Books, Films… Overall, 57 different data sources are listed and categorized, and the author has also made a good effort pointing out the main drawbacks that a developer can face when using them (yes, Google has some restrictions too Sonrisa)

Not many examples are provided though: here shortness is a premium over completeness. However, all the book is filled with links to the relevant web pages where more detailed information and examples can be found, so this is not a problem. Kudos to Pete Warden on this subject too!

How long these data sources might remain valid or available as stated might impact the book’s value, however as of now is a great and cheap acquisition that can be easily read on a weekend (or afternoon for the die-hards) and the next monday will start giving back its value.

One of those books that shouldn’t be kept too far from your development desk. It can be found here: http://oreilly.com/catalog/9781449303143/

jueves, 3 de febrero de 2011

HTML5 in VisualStudio 2010

20:41 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios

Nice post on how to set up HTML5 validation on VisualStudio 2010


sábado, 29 de enero de 2011

Review of The Facebook Marketing Book by Dan Zarrella and Allison Zarrella

19:00 by Rafael Flores · 3 comentarios

After watching the too much bloated movie on Facebook’s beginnings, I had the impression that to be a successful web-entrepreneur you have to be either a total nerd or the luckiest guy around, not having a clue on how and if that “Facebook” is a real business or not.



Then I had the chance to review Zarrellas’ “The Facebook Marketing Book” which finally helped me finding out. It is not a silly attempt to create an interesting history from a dull money-making one, as the movie is, but rather a clean and practical way to learn what can be done with Facebook in order to perform a good Web 2.0 marketing attempt. A word of advice though: no magical recipes are going to be found here, any marketing effort just gets as good as the persons doing it.


The book is a very easy reading: each topic covered has an accompanying screenshot of real life Facebook’s examples, which gives also some hints on what companies to follow or “mimic” when doing your own marketing efforts. The book covers in 12 chapters the main aspects of Facebook: Profiles, Pages, Groups, Events, Analytics… etc. After reading each chapter a clear idea is obtained of what the purpose of each of those elements is in Facebook’s world, when, how and what for they can be used. And upon closing the book I really think I now understand where the money in Facebook can be found and why so many companies are there trying to get as many “Fans” as possible.

There are a couple things missing on the book that I would have really love to have found included, and thus my rating of it doesn’t get too high:

  • First, nowhere in the book I found a good basic guide of a Web 2.0 marketing campaign using Facebook. A chapter covering a simple “how to” once all the main Facebook’s components have been explained would have really rounded up the book, even considering that there’s no “one size fits all” advice. But given that the book seems to have been thought as a “newbies” guide into Facebook’s marketing, I missed this.
  • Second, I found that the Application devoted chapter was too bleak not giving too much value on how to actually program those apps. Ok, this is a marketing focused book and it does actually talk about what can be done with Facebook apps so as to get more “marketing revenue” so, well, I cannot really complain about this. But being the IT kind of guy that likes trying everything, I missed it, just a bit.

All in all, a good reading which doesn’t require a big effort to get through, gives a good bunch of good advices and examples and can give you a good idea of what really is that Facebook about (the money, that is!).

The book is here http://oreilly.com/catalog/9781449388485/

lunes, 17 de enero de 2011

Tapworthy or keys for great iPhone (and other) apps

23:59 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios

Just had some time to watch this O'Reilly Webcast: Tapworthy - Designing iPhone Interfaces for Delight and Usability (Link) and found it really useful, so thought it would be a good idea to share it and also keep it on my Blog for future reference.. Josh Clark (Twitter @globalmoxie and web http://www.globalmoxie.com) makes a quick resume in just about 1:20 hours of key points of an iPhone application, but that can also be applied to any mobile platform as well.

Key aspects to consider:

What makes an app mobile?
- Micro tasking app.: small apps for small (but relevant) tasks 
- Local: apps to enhance my local experience 
- Bored: “pastime” apps.

How can we create “Tapworthy” apps:
- Focus on mobile context
- Optimize for micro-tasking
- Use sensors to enhance local context
- Create opportunities for exploration
- Complex != complicated
- Do one thing and do it well

And finally work on “Finger-friendly” design:
- Use the thumb's hot zone
- Design to a 44-point rhythm (font size)
- Be generous with space
- Content at top, controls at bottom
- Avoid scrolling where practical
- Put secondary controls behind hidden doors

As said, very interesting bits of information that suggest reading Josh’s book must be worth it! In the meantime, the video is a fast and free way to get some very good advice.

viernes, 14 de enero de 2011

A por los libros digitales

8:48 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios

Finalmente he caído y he comprado el Kindle de Amazon. Es un pedazo de eBook por lo que he leído por ahí y tengo unas ganas enormes de tenerlo y empezar a usarlo, que se me están acumulando los libros para leer!

La única “pega” es que el tiempo de entrega de Amazon para este dispositivo es de 9 días desde la compra… ¡se me va a hacer larga la espera!

viernes, 7 de enero de 2011

Nuevo diseño y otro Blog recomendado

11:13 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios

Acabo de aplicar un cambio en el diseño del Blog, cambiándolo por uno que me parece mucho más diáfano y agradable de leer que lo que tenía hasta ahora. Además, he hecho bastantes correcciones tanto en el etiquetado como en algunas de las entradas del Blog, que no se podían leer convenientemente ("gracias" a la incompatibilidad entre Blogger y Windows Live Writer; no me voy a meter en quién tiene la culpa de estas incompatibilidades, pero siempre acabamos pringando los de abajo).
Pero esto no habría sido posible sin "fusilar" el tema que usa el blog de Martín Pérez, Pensamientos Ágiles, cuya lectura es mucho más que recomendable si os interesan los temas de los que va este Blog y que podéis encontrar enlazado en la barra lateral. Muchas gracias Martín, no sólo por facilitarme el conocer este tema sino sobre todo por todos los contenidos que aportas!

Review of Bill Scott & Theresa Neil's Designing Web Interfaces Master Class

9:21 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios

Review of the Web Interface design video by Bill Scott and Theresa Neil, a good bunch of very good recommendations and patters and anti-patterns on WI designing. Unfortunately it doesn’t get into the how-to at all though, which makes this video a “nice to” but not “must to” watch.

Given that December is such a busy moth I chose a video as my first contribution to the O’Reilly review program, "Scott & Neil's Designing Web Interfaces Master Class”. As I was about to go on a trip my idea was to use the in-flight hours to go through the bit more than 4 hours long video. Unfortunately I couldn’t because the sound quality of some of the speakers (public members and sometimes even the speakers themselves) was a bit too poor to listen to, so these are not videos that you could see whilst on transport though imho those are the time where they should be more suitable for. View quality however was excellent with the cameras making a good job not to miss anything (just some slides cannot be seen whilst switching cameras; this is a bit of a nuisance right now as the link provided by the speakers where the presentation should be downloadable from doesn’t work…. Hopefully they’ll solve this).

Now, to the content. Bill Scott is a “die hard” UI veteran with lots of experience designing and consulting others’ projects on anything UI related, or should I say Web Interface (WI) related, making sure that user’s experience is as excellent as could be. Theresa Neil has also a broad experience primarily on the design part of WI/UI experiences. And they show their value all the way through the videos, presenting a master class on design principles. I must say though that this is not what I was looking for, since myself being a bit of a “mid-level-do-anything” guy I wanted to see some code examples on actually how to do things (in whatever language) instead of a nice bunch of samples of patterns and anti-patterns on interface design. Don’t get me wrong: the samples shown provide very good ideas and insight value, however to me this gets short. (For example, I was looking for some content more like O’Reilly’s “HTML5 Mobile Web Development” video instead).

All in all, I got out a loot of good advices and recommendations, kind of the ones I could get if I had contracted a UI-consultancy service, but much cheaper:

  • Use Hub&Spoke model for navigation
  • Differentiate of what Click versus Hover means in the user’s mind
  • Keep constant flow
  • Idiot boxes
  • Be careful about overlaying
  • How to best invite user’s interaction
  • Use transitions and animations where and when they make sense, don’t overuse
  • Be reactive so the customer feels her progress

And many more. As said, lots of valuable recommendations on how the good web sites are created (and why they are good) as well as lots of samples of poor sites. Pity this didn’t get my hands code-dirty.

The video can be found here: http://oreilly.com/catalog/0636920010043/

martes, 4 de enero de 2011

A Shift in the Startup Universe

14:49 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios

Interesante visión de "Pitch Doctor" sobre el Startup-Universe y por qué la crisis ha generado un movimiento de startups emergente en todas partes y con profesionales de todos los géneros... al menos en EEUU y otros países inteligentes (UK, Deutschland...).
A Shift in the Startup Universe

Seguramente aquí no llegaremos nunca a esos cambios porque podría significar que los bancos y demás buitres tengan que soltar lo que queda de presa y son suficientemente ciegos (¿estúpidos?) para no hacerlo antes de que sea demasiado tarde. Aquí con que nos la pongan "roja" con Gran Hermano nos vale, al parecer.

Cambio YA!