Archive for the 'France' 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 – Del.icio.us 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 Del.icio.us 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 af83.com
  • 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…..

ineation – Drupal en français

Very cool:  Inéation, a slick, in-depth blog dedicated to Drupal, entirely in French.  W00t to the francais crew.  Courtesy of DrupalCon Paris 2009 co-conspirator Alexandre Eisenchteter.

Drupal’N’Go – Case Study

DrupalNGo

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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Drupal’N’Go

DrupalNGo

DrupalNGo

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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Great wine podcasts – and great geek cheat sheet

In researching the basics of U.S. wine and terroir for Mapovino, I’ve come across a few good resources for interested beginners. And so, to share the wealth:

  • Napa Valley Wine Radio: Despite the elevator jazz and fireside-smooth feel of this podcast, it has some gems of fundamental information. I’ve been looking for a good guide to “Decision-making in the course of wine-making” (a useful tool to use on Mapovino to compare differences among wine-makers?), so I appreciated Episode 61 – Winemaking 101. Yes, it’s a beginner’s overview, but it does point out step by step what decisions a winemaker will make that can affect the outcome of the wine. And then, perhaps more relevant to Mapovino, Episode 63 – The Napa Valley AVA.
  • Twisted Oak Winery: I’ve never tried their wines, but their “cheat sheet” (pdf) is not only helpful to understand their wines, but to understand some of the “wine geek” numbers that get thrown around a lot by people fascinated by such things (residual sugar, brix, etc)
  • Grape Radio: Grape Radio has a ton of great content. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of the trio’s banter (but then again I prefer the foul-language and insult-laden diatribes of LUG Radio, so who am I to say anything?). That doesn’t stop me from recommending them as a great resource – and if you’re at all interested in Pinot Noir, you should listen to their recording of this lengthy Pinot Noir seminar with Allen Meadows. Whether you know very little and are curious, or you are well-versed in Burgundy wines, this is an incredible font of knowledge and history.

Mapovino: Google-mapping and social-networking and wikipedia-ing

It’s very difficult to describe what we are aiming for with the Mapovino project without getting caught up in Web2.0 buzzword bingo; or, going the other route, being so pretentious that it’s we’re sooo different that we shun any words that sound vaguely like the “read-write web”. Sigh. Below are my best thoughts in words so far….

(We’re having a demo and wine-tasting in San Francisco soon. Contact me if you’re interested!)
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Mapovino is a wine-mapping website incorporating GoogleMaps to showcase geographically distinct wines and the stories behind these wines.

Mapovino is interactive:

  • Users can add comments, photos, link to maps in their blogs, and even add blog links on the map.

Mapovino is encyclopedic:

  • It will pull wine and geography information from Wikipedia and other public information sources. This secondary user-generated content further enables users to interact with Mapovino.


Mapovino is information and referral:

  • Mapovino will not sell wines; instead, it will point to where to find the wine in stores and restaurants.


Mapovino will be driven by wine fans, helped by Mapovino staff:

  • Producers will not have the burden entering information about their wines and vineyards – fans of their wines can help input that information. Mapovino staff will highlight producers, and post in-depth articles and interviews. Producers can control their own entries, but do not have to do anything specific for their wines to appear on the site.


Mapovino is in development:

  • To be part of the conversation, please email “greg.beuthin” in front of “@af83.com”

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We’re hiring! AF83 is looking for a Drupal developer!

Read all about it over here. 

My contact info is on the linked page – yep, you’d be talking to me.  (The position is based in San Francisco…)

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