Monthly Archives: October 2007

Chinese stealing my code

NOTICE: Find more in my tech blog: liopic.me.

This page was part of my last project which I developed in my company: Buff catalog.

And this page was part of the website of our client’s competitor in China, recently published: KranGear catalog.

The funny thing is that their javascript files even include MY comments, in Spanish.

The idea was to use a thermometer as the scroll bar, reflecting the different temperature protection of every product. The original page was developed around December 2006. I spent a couple of weeks tweaking the details, to get the smoothest result. I think it was an innovation, because the design department wanted to make it with Flash, and I showed them that this can be made with just javascript (including the zoom-in effect when you pass over the designs). And now a Chinese competitor copies me… hence I did a good job (even I could have done far better, but we were in a hurry to publish the website).

This reminds me of another UI effect, made with javascript, which I programmed for the Whisher home page (now they have a new website, but my work can be seen, without images, at webarchive’s capture). The idea was some kind of quick movement between slides, and I spent a couple of days creating the correct framework (divs, css, and javascript) to make it alive. Now it’s a quite common effect, that most javascript libraries have (like this example), but in those days it was new stuff.

Curious, because my most innovative work was in this area (javascript), when my position at the company was more server-side focused (php + mysql, mainly).

Time of changes

NOTICE: Find more in my tech blog: liopic.me.

Post #200, and time of changes.

– I’m unemployed now. Eventually I finish my last day in my company. It was somehow a sad day, with lots of “goodbye”, “good luck”, and such… but all my coworkers collect some money and gave me a 200eur voucher for buying a camera! I’ve learned a lot during these 2.6 years, but I felt it was time to advance… looking for another company (bigger, more software oriented) to continue learning. But first, I’m taking some months free to prepare and develop a web project I have had in my mind for some time.

– My English teacher went back to Wales. Due to some financial problems, he decided (in a quick way) to finish his stay in Barcelona, and go back home… and also to try to convince a publisher about the quality of his book. I hope to see his book published soon. During the last 2 years we have been meeting every week, to practice my English, to improve it, to speak about the world, the people, our life… becoming friends. I miss those Tuesday afternoons. See you soon, Vaughan.

– VIII Spanish Go Open in Alicante finished. Since February (when this tournament was announced), I’ve been looking forward to playing in this tournament (as I previously wrote in the last post). The event was a success, even we had a big problem with a mistake in the final results (the 3 first positions were exchanged). But I think all the players enjoyed the tournament and the sightseeing.

VIII Spanish Open in Alicante

Finally, this year’s Spanish Open is coming. Next weekend, more than 60 people from the whole Europe will play Go in the University of Alicante. I’m really excited… eager for hitting the first stone on the board.

This event is special for me. It’s the first tournament held in my homeland, and in the University where I studied. I remember the situation some years ago, when I was the only player of the province. But in the last 2 years a lot of people have started to play, and have eventually decided to organize a tournament. Of course, managing the problems of this kind of event is not an easy thing… it’s a headache creator! But the effort is worth it.

The top players are: Lluis 6 dan, our Korean teacher now living in Barcelona; Benjamin 5 dan, a young French champion; Boris 5 dan, a Russian who has been European champion; and all our Spanish dans. It’s not easy to guess the final results!

3 days to start… and I’m already sharpening my weapons!

Povertry and web 2.0

Thinking further about the subject of the previous post, I can claim that almost all tech companies produce things for the top richest population of the world (I mean, including the 3rd world). Look at Microsoft and their Vista O.S, that can only run in a really expensive machine (expensive even for the Western standards). Google and Yahoo develop new products (mail systems, news collectors, etc) that use a lot of the power of the user computer [basically there is a lot of javascript around to “improve” the user experience… this reminds me of a wise requirement from a Last.fm opening, which was “Javascript, and when not to use it”]. Well, Google Search (their top product) is fast, but for the rest of their products (and Yahoo’s and other companies’ ones) you need a good machine… obviously they don’t focus on the people with poor resources.

Another idea to keep in mind: the success of the web 2.0, in economical terms, is the equation “low instalment plus a lot of people equals a lot of money”. See examples like Flickr or Last.fm, that ask you for a small amount of money, to get a benefit based in the incredible amount of subscribers.

So, with these two ideas, I wonder why tech companies don’t look at the 3rd world as a possible market. Maybe they can’t pay 300 euros for a product, but maybe they can spend a small amount of money to increase their well-being… and there are millions of people in this situation. Maybe the reason is that this adventure is too risky… but “no risk, no return”.

Helping people from the past

Some time ago I was wondering how we would help the past civilizations if we had a time machine, and could travel to the past to help them. It’s just fantasy, but I daydreamed some ideas…

Imagine revealing gunpowder to the Greeks. Or showing a way to create and store electricity to the Roman Empire. Actually they didn’t have copper cables, so it wouldn’t be interesting at all. The good part of electricity is that it can be transported easily, with cables. But there are other methods to produce energy, like the water wheel. You can build a big water wheel near a river, and using some belts and axles to transport the energy to a factory, where you can convert this rotating movement into different kinds of processes. In the 19th century they used this method in real shotgun factories, for example. In fact, there were water wheels working alongside steam engines in the industrial revolution. Of course, a steam engine is a more interesting thing than a water wheel, but in a poor-tech civilization they can’t build an effective one.

Actually you don’t need a time machine to visit a poor-tech civilization, you can just have a look at the 3rd world. They don’t have modern technology, and they need to improve their lives.

I was happy to read that the people at MIT, are trying to invent cheap solutions to 3rd world problems. As it’s written in the article:

“Nearly 90 percent of research and development dollars are spent on creating technologies that serve the wealthiest 10 percent of the world’s population… The point of the design revolution is to switch that.”

Inspiring!!

The big IEEE fault

NOTICE: Find more in my tech blog: liopic.me.

Somebody sent me a link to an article about Computer Go, appeared in the “IEEE Spectrum” magazine. It’s quite unbelievable that the author (who was involved in the Deep Blue development) wrote this overall article about the subject, mostly focusing the solution in brute-force… “Brute-force computation has eclipsed humans in chess, and it could soon do the same in this ancient Asian game”. He is saying something like… “just wait 10 years”. He shows no idea about the real state-of-art of Computer Go, the new approaches, or the ways to almost avoid brute-force. While he waits for faster hardware, other people research in interesting ways to solve or simplify the problem, in a more real AI focus. Did I tell you he works for Microsoft? 😉

Even I totally disagree with the article, I thought for a moment about joining IEEE, just to receive this magazine. But when I was in the process of registering, after a silly survey, I suddenly read this:

We see you are using Firefox … Our site is best viewed with Internet Explorer 6.0 on Windows. We recommend you download now.

What? Are you telling me I can’t use Firefox? And you are recommending me an old browser… I can’t take these people seriously. They’ve spent some time developing a browser detector, instead of developing a cross-browser website. I’m not in… I’ll not join.