Archive for the 'AF83' Category

Yet another roundup of iPhone apps, including Metro Paris and Facebook for iPhone

I’ve always been the “in-between” guy -depending on who I’m talking to, I’m either an expert or an amateur at a particular topic…. the topic is the same, I am the same, what differs is the background and expertise of whoever i’m talking to.  Whether it’s wine, drumming.. or technology.
So the fact that I’ve finally got an iPhone is near-luddite to some friends, and eye-rollingly geeky to others.  The one advantage, however, is I can usually rely on others to have paved some of the way for me.

Which is why I’ve been a bit surprised at how lame some of the iPhone functionality is, giving the massive adoption rate and couple of revisions its gone through.  Yes, Virginia – I’m over the honeymoon phase, and onto the phase where I try to answer my iPhone in my pocket in 3C weather with gloves on, and I miss the call because the only way to answer is to have a bare finger slide across the screen.

I guess I should have known that the battery wouldn’t hold up to several hours worth of Gmapping (useful when wandering around the outskirts of Paris looking for an apartment), but I was pleased to see it will stay alive over night if it’s on 20% of its battery power.

App switching speed is not what is advertised on the slick apple campaigns – but I knew that.  However, it’s really stunning how poorly some apps deal with Edge data transfer rates (app developer’s problem, I know, not Apple’s).  There are several apps – Bookmakrs for example – tht stall on Edge even though it’s only transferring text!

Music streamers also choke, but that I can understand.  If I’m walking around downtown Paris – bathed in 3G connectivity – my Last.FM will stall every other song.  LiveRadio (Orange’s internet radio app) has a lot of promise, but the load time for the radio station lists is terrible – and it hangs while trying to load, so if you want to answer a phone call during that time, for example, no can do.

Which brings me to my short list of iPhone desires:

  • No copy and paste?…..
  • Streaming radio apps that do not cut off when you switch apps.  Is it that hard to create a background process?  I ask this honestly, not facetiously…..
  • Fast preview loading.  If I want to see a list – of radio stations, bookmarks, whatever – load the text list quickly first.  Once I’ve decided what I want to see, I can wait a little longer to load the full text / image / media.
  • Some sort of password management / keychain.   Wow, wouldn’t it be col if there was an OpenID app for iPhone (haven’t looked yet…)
  • What’s with the volume on the iPod?  My phone calls blow my ears out, but my music – with decent volume on my iPod, sucks on the iPhone….

And so as not to end on a sour note:  As predicted I have become addicted to my iPhone and so here are my essential apps, in case there is anyone stil out there who has yet to get an iPhone or yet to get one of these apps:

  • Facebook for iPhone:  A Facebook junky mostly because my main network is all my friends I left behind in San Francisco, this is a great tool for me.  I saw the ripple effect happen among my friends when they saw my automatic update “Greg installed Facebook for the iPhone”….
  • WritingPad:  A “cursive” way of writing (but don’t think Palm Pilot’s old styls shorthand) that is faster and more reliable.  Works with built-in email, but not other applications.
  • Last.FM / Pandora  / Live Radio:  Three great streaming services – when you have wifi or 3G at your beck and call.  The last is an Orange (France Telecom)-specific app for subscribers only – and to be honest, it’s a bit of a dog.  But it gives you essentiallyt eh same access to online radios around the world that iTunes does – which I have not yet seen on another app (doesn’t mean I’ve done a bunch of searching).
  • Glacon Lite (link opens your iTunes): an addictive and short game.  And for those wondering what the other addictive, colored-ball game is – reMovem Lite.  Also a good one.
  • Metro Paris:  A great iPhone version of the indispensable RATP interactive map.  My biggest complaint is that the iPhone app does not include the full RER lines.
  • Fring:  Initially a Skype (and other chat / VOIP service) gateway, it’s now an all-social-web aggregator/sharing/kitchen sink.  Haven’t tested the latency of Skype voice calls….
  • WordReference (iTunes link): a must for living and working in France
  • NetNewsWire:  Although the only thing really feed is my wife’s blog, and The Daily Blah (no, not that one…)
  • Bookmarks (iTunes link):  An iPhone app for your booksmarks.  If you’ve got hundreds like I do, you need this to browse them effectively.

Websites with good mobile service:

  • MonRAPT: a simple interface for looking up routes.  A free alternative to the full app described above – designed by my friend Shakaman here at
  • iBackPack: A CSS hack you have to put into yoru BackPack pages that renders them nicely for the iPhone.

And one to leave on – a new app I discovered putting together this list – Leaflets….. looks good…..


Special mobile session of the SF Drupal Users Group

This one is close to my heart – a special SF Drupal Users Group next Monday focusing on mobile integration with Drupal sites.

Please join us on Monday, Nov 10th at PariSoMa for a special mobile-focused San Francisco Drupal Users Group meeting.

Mark Burdett will give an overview of a project he is working on that integrates mobile functionality with a Drupal site:

  • Register by phone
  • Post by phone
  • SMS alerts (covering the basics)

Maurice Carron will then give us a showcase of another site he has worked on with similar and additional functionality:

  • Content delivery (incl MMS)
  • Compatible device source transcoding
  • Wap theming

As usual, beer and sodas for the first dozen or folks.

SFDUG – Mobile integration on Drupal sites

Monday, Nov 10
1436 Howard St, at 10th

Every Human Has Rights

Every Human Has Rights Media AwardsWe (AF83) are supporting Internews launch an international support campaign for the journalists who risk their lives every day to bring you news about the current state of human rights around the world.  A people’s choice award (voting starts Nov 1st) will be given along with other media awards.

Given we are supporting this campaign in a Web2.0 world, you can follow the progress of this campaign via our Twitter feed, through MySpace, and even on FaceBook and Care2.  You can add a banner to your site.

Please join us in supporting human rights, and supporting the journalists who are on the ground every day, bringing us the news of the current state of human rights.

(Having cut my tech teeth in the nonprofit world for a decade, it’s good to be back in the realm of supporting social causes….)

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Drupal’N’Go – Case Study


Last weekend, my company’s Paris office helped run “Drupal’N’Go”, a BarCamp/WineCamp style Drupal barn-raising.  The idea was to select a worthy nonprofit organization, and build an entire webiste for them.

How did it turn out?  DrupalFrance community member jlndrr posted this feedback (in English, French version here).

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af83 is hiring Drupal developers! is an open-source web development company headquartered in Paris. We build music and digital artist communities and are expanding into the green lifestyle movement. Our clients are some of the largest media companies in Europe, including French mobile service provider SFR, and Universal Music Europe.

We are currently expanding our San Francisco office to serve US and international clients, and are looking for web developers experienced with Drupal. Our SF office is located in a gorgeous SoMa loft (PariSoMa) and anchors a coworking community as well as hosting tech (and wine) events.

You DO NOT need to speak French for this position.
You DO need to speak Drupal.


  • Experienced with PHP and MySQL
  • Experienced with Drupal, including developing or customizing modules
  • Someone who can work well alone, but also with a team

Skills preferred – in one or more of these areas:

  • Implementation of page mock-ups in standards-compliant CSS/ xHTML
  • Javascript / jQuery / Prototype
  • Flash / Flex
  • Alternate CMS’s (Joomla, Typo3, etc)
  • Website development project management

Your specific skill set can be matched up with others among the AF83 team. You will be working with a local and international team on several concurrent projects.

Salary DOE • Benefits included • Flexible schedule

To apply or for further information, please send an email to Greg Beuthin on the contact page.
In the email, please:

  • Point us to 2-3 websites you have been instrumental in developing (at least one in Drupal).
  • Indicate what part of these sites you were responsible for (basic build, customization, theming, etc).
  • Tell us of a challenge you faced when building the site, and how you resolved it.

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Ah, makes me proud. The French Drupal community (of which my current employer AF83 is a core supporter) is taking the WineCamp style models, and going to host a DrupalCamp with the specific goal to barn-raise a Drupal website for one lucky French NGO. It’s called, in a smart blend of pun and brand, Drupal’N’Go.

(There is discussion whether this is specific to NGOs, or French non-profits in general. Regardless of specific designation, I think the idea is to pick an organization that supports a broader social good instead of a local sports org, which could also be a nonprofit).

A few of the breadcrumbs that led here:

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Where’s the open map data?

One of the first people I talked to when I was at WhereCamp several weeks ago was a guy from GeoCommons. Now this is the kind of thing that I get excited about – people putting up virtual warehouses to encourage people to store open data. In this case, geo-coded data.

Of course, one of the first things I did was look for geo-coded data on wine appellations. Unfortunately, there’s nothing there. In fact, I’ve looked high and low for open-licensed geo data for US wine appellations, with no luck. (Yes, Vestra has this info for sale. But if we buy it, we can’t share it, right?) If Mapovino has to code this ourselves, then it’s going to set us back a little bit. In the end, our aim would be to then publish the kml / geo-coded data on… GeoCommons, for example.

The appellation data itself is publicly available from several federal sources (here, for example). The challenge is that the appellations are defined in natural language, and according to USGS maps, not latitude / longitude. So there’s some translation work that needs to happen. There are a few different ways of taking this descriptive data and turning it into KML files (my first idea involves using the hiking software Topo, but that’s another story) – but it will require a human and many hours.

In the end, even emails to the TTB (the wing of the ATF that focuses on non-terrorist related activities) and the USGS have turned up empty handed – they all pointed me to the narrative description files I’ve found before.

So it looks like we’re gonna need an intern and some USGS maps. Know someone who wants to trade drawing skills for some wine? 🙂

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