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Move Your Multimedia Content to S3

In order to save me some trouble from my hosting provider, I recently decided to move all my multimedia content to Amazon’s Simple Storage Service.

Scalable and affordable serving of large files to an expanding number of visitors indeed has become a commodity, as a GB of storage per month costs only $0.15, with $0.18 per GB for the first TB of transfered data (check all the prices here).

What you need for a simple start is:

  1. Sign up for Amazon Web Services (link)
  2. Under Your web services account, you will find you AWS Access Identifiers
  3. Save your Access Key ID (public) and your secret access key somewhere safe
  4. Get a tool like Bucket Explorer, which servers as a UI for S3 (buckets are like folders in S3)
  5. Sign in with your keys
  6. Start uploading content and setting access rights

Once you’ve given read access for All users to a file within a bucket, it will become available from a web browser/service at such an address:

http://s3.amazonaws.com/bucket_name/file_name.extension



Fring – Skype on your mobile

Fring

I’ve just made my first call using Skype on Fring with my good old Nokia N70.

Apart from a < 1 second latency, it seems to work fine!

Fring is a mobile application that integrates services such as  Skype, MSN Messenger, ICQ, Google Talk, and SIP, giving you a chance to use your mobile to make and receive “free” calls.

I’ll give it a try for a week and see how it goes …


Fun vs. Focus

There has been a lot of talk about the importance of focus.

Focus on one thing, be persistent, and you will succeed.

But succeed in what? In making yourself an expert in one field whilst growing completely oblivious to all the other interesting things life has to offer?

Well … to some extent, yes.

Focus is when you stop looking at everything that interests you and constantly struggles to draw your attention.

Focus is when you shoot like a laser beam towards the goal in front of you. The goal that, naturally, was set before the shot. And a goal that might, when you have finally reached it, have become outdated …

Cannon man

This is why even those who do focus have to constantly be on the lookout for change and must devote at least a bit of their attention to whatever else lies out there.

So what stops them from going after one of those other distractions, some of them maybe a hundred times more promising that the goal at hand? What gives them the confidence and, yes, the right to abandon what life has in store for them?

People who know me will say that I’m all over the place. And I love it … I enjoy life and I love diversity. I would go to considerable lengths to keep the balance between all the things I’m fond of, all the things that are keeping me afloat.

I’m always curious and in pursuit of experience … wondering about the impact that different roles and situations may have on me, my life and my emotions … How a particular role would make me feel.

So … how does it feel to shoot out like a laser beam?

Well … I guess I’m about to find out …




Ballooning Over Sevnica

Ballooning Over Sevnica

I spent the weekend at a permaculture farm near Sevnica, owned by my friend and colleague Borut.

On Sunday, we had a picnic party with some interesting guests, including Borut’s friend Srečo and his son, who own a hot air balloon.

They were kind enough to give us a lift – unfortunately the bad weather didn’t allow us to go beyond the reach of the ropes that tied the balloon to the neighbouring trees, but it was still a thrilling experience!

I’ve posted more pictures here.


Six Degrees of Self-Expression

Windows Live Messenger MobileImage via Wikipedia

If you are an early adopter like me, you are probably struggling with all the means of communication and self-expression currently available.

At the moment, I’m using the following tools, each of them scratches a specific itch:

1. Instant Messaging Windows Live Messenger, Skype

2. Asynchronous Targeted Messaging E-mail, Pownce, Facebook, Myspace (ugh)

3. Asynchronous Disorganized Self-Expression Pownce, Jaiku, Twitter, Facebook

4. Organized Publishing My blogs

5. Presence LinkedIn (professional), Facebook (personal), Myspace (bleh)

6. Loopback Publishing Del.icio.us + Tumblr, combined with Google Reader (subscribing to my own feeds)

I’m speculating here, but I expect/hope this list to boil down to the following over the next 2-5 years:

*UPDATE* Using acronyms to make the post look less crappy with this theme (hopefully ;))

1. IM Windows Live Messenger, Skype, SMS

2. ATM E-mail, Pownce, Facebook, Myspace (ugh)

3. ADSE Pownce, Jaiku, Twitter, Facebook

4. OP My blogs

5. P LinkedIn (professional), Facebook (personal), Myspace (ugh)

6. LBP Del.icio.us + Tumblr, combined with Google Reader (subscribing to my own feeds) Pownce

So … This would leave Pownce, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs.

What do you think?

This is a place where we could communicate


Where will smokers smoke?

So it’s happening.

On August 5th, it will be illegal to smoke inside public buildings (except for psychiatric hospitals and some other happy places), bars and restaurants (except inside fish tanks) in Slovenia.

Put the cigarette out

I quit smoking in 2005, but I can’t help but feel some compassion.

Around a quarter of people smoke in Slovenia, and I wonder how this is going to affect the whole going-out experience.

I am sure we will eventually come to appreciate the newly acquired oxygen levels :).


Learning A Language With The Bible

Picture from Codex GigasImage via Wikipedia

A while ago, when I was beginning my struggle with Finnish, I found it quite difficult to find translations online, since Finnish is a highly inflected language and word roots are not easy to identify for a beginner.

After having googled enough Finnish words, I was starting to see a possibility – almost every search yielded an excerpt from a specific source.

Meet the Bible

I had never read more than a few pages of it before, but I soon saw that the Bible is the perfect language resource:

  • It’s available in almost all languages
  • Text is highly consistent across most languages
  • It’s very well structured
  • The smallest unit of text in many parts is 1-3 sentences long

The last point is very important as it makes the book ideal for being used as a text corpus.

Let’s take the word kansalle, for example.

Google Search - kansalle

If you google for the search term “kansalle finnish bible”, the first result gives you Kings, Chapter 12.

12:6 Kuningas Rehabeam neuvotteli vanhain kanssa, jotka olivat palvelleet hänen isäänsä Salomoa, kun tämä vielä eli, ja kysyi: “Kuinka te neuvotte vastaamaan tälle kansalle?”

And the English version:

12:6 And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people?

So, kansalle clearly means to (the) people, the suffix -lle being an indication of the allative case.

It’s that easy.

I am currently working on a system that would automate this.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Bible phrase in both languages pop up whenever you searched for a word? What do you think?

Links:

Biblija.net – a magnificent corpus of Slovenian, English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Catalan and Euskara (Basque) bible versions

A list of Finnish cases – the best explanation of the cases I could find

Finnish Bible


Learning Swedish – The Cheap And Easy Way

Learn Swedish - Lär dig svenska

I’ve always been fascinated with this sleek and elegant language.

Luckily, there is an abundance of resources online to fast-forward a learner’s acquisition process.

As with any other language, I’d promote the following steps:

  1. Start with an introductory course and get to know the basic grammar and pronunciation
  2. Next, get a Swedish children’s book (e.g. this) and read it a couple of times using a dictionary
  3. Get some Swedish friends online and practice your conversation skills
  4. Watch a good Swedish film (e.g. Ondskan) – start slowly, Swedish pronunciation is the tricky part
  5. Spend some time in Sweden
  6. Get free Swedish books online and read them side-by-side with their English counterparts
  7. Listen to Swedish podcasts, watch Swedish news, watch Swedish TV channels

A quick list of resources:

Anyway, låt mig veta hur det går! :)


Choose The Right Fonts

TypeTester

This cool web app lets you compare 3 columns of text side-by-side using the types you choose.

This could come quite handy when developing the CSS for a new web site.


Loading Animation Generator For AJAX Apps

Ajax Loader 1

If you’re looking for cool GIF animations for your AJAX-powered web application, this site does it all for you.

It’s got a nice interface where you can choose the type and color of the animation, and you can even make it transparent.

I’m definitely going to use this for a while, at least until something better comes along.

True – the web space is increasingly full of clichés, ranging from loading animations, reflections, “beta” versions, to at times unintuitive social collaboration.

But heck – I’m not quite ready to start worrying about this just yet – all in all, if we are moving our desktops to the web, we might as well get comfortable with a set of easily recognizable visual elements.