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English-language version of Luistxo Fernandez's blog

How Scandinavian of her

Luistxo Fernandez 2007/07/16 09:56
Quite a long time since I didn't attend an "international artist concert". But Björk's visit to the Guggenheim in Bilbao was worth the little journey from home. It was a good concert. It sounded best when electronic machines pumped up the volume surrounding Björk's voice with trip-hop noise, in songs like Joga, Pluto... The famous Reactable was fake, or it seemed like that: whenever they used it, nothing happened to sound; rythm, notes, and the whole soundscape was independent of that gadget.

On the other hand, the local Basques in the audiences were just getting anxious as the concert evolved and Björk, how Scandinavian of her, kept repeating Gracias, gracias, gracias in Spanish... Just before the final song, Declare Independence (was it specially chosen?) she finally said Eskerrik asko in Basque, after consulting someone behind the curtains. Finally! we screamed (many people commented this to me afterwards). But just as the song ended, she forgot what she heard previously, and just repeated: gracias.

Don't worry, we still love Iceland.

Basque-Japanese cuisine, football and Facebook

Luistxo Fernandez 2007/07/02 11:30
Like many others, I'm new to Facebook. For a newcomer, searching for your city (Donostia) it's like a logical step and I found this group, not too crowded but interesting: San Sebastian Donostia Gastronomy.

I received the following welcome message: We have only just created this group but will post, Ryan, Martin and I have visited Donostia a number of times and eaten at Mugaritz, Arzak, Martin B, Zuberoa, and our favourite Akelarre.

Our favourite football team in Spain is of course Real Sociedad.

I replied that that list of restaurants is excellent, but, you know, most of the time one doesn't choose those local multi-star Michelin places to dine ;-) I don't know Mugaritz yet, for instance. Rather eat on the cheap, and there's plenty to do that in Donostia as well. My latest find, a Japanese-Basque little cave near home, Txubillo. Interesting food there, I commend it.

On the other hand, regarding Real Sociedad, I cannot agree with my new coleagues at Facebook. I'm just so happy they fell to Division 2 of the Spanish football league... Meanwhile my hometown team Eibar went up from Division 3 (called 2b, really) to 2, so I'll attend an interesting derby against Real next season ;-)

The Rolling Stones fill stadiums while emptying taxpayers' pockets

Luistxo Fernandez 2007/06/26 06:56

The Rolling Stones were in town (Donostia) last weekend. Tickets ranged from 60 to 105 euros. It's supposed that these megastars fill stadiums, but that was not the case apparently... Just 24 hours before the concert, some public institutions began giving away tickets to everyone. The public radio gave around 2000, and in the very City Hall of Donostia, public officials handed tickets by the dozens in a somehow hidden way.

The concert was heavily subsidized, yet it seems that expectations were not met, and there was something in the contract saying that at least several thousand people should be at the stadium. No voids in sights for the Stones. Therefore, the public institutions decided to trhow more taxpayer money on the hands of these boring old millionaires, with that free ticket fiasco.

An insult to all those that payed the tickets. Fraud and insult for taxpayers in Donostia. How much did this cost to us? No, they won't tell us.

More info in Spanish at this blog.

Historic Maps of Wherecamp 2007

Luistxo Fernandez 2007/06/07 12:11
I had never been to a Barcamp event, so I was gladly surprised with the self-organising principles, networking opportunities and good atmosphere that I found at last week's Wherecamp, which I attended with my Tagzania coleague, Gari Araolaza.

I even dared to give a lightning talk of my own. Unlike the Ignite Talk at Where 2.0, which went quite well, I just couldn't adjust to the available 5 minutes, and it went 1 minute long. Sorry!!!

My talk was Historic Maps. Best viewed at this Flickr set, as the presentation was just a succession of screenshots, showing historic maps of the first ever Wherecamp event of history! Map applications that participants showed and discussed, centered on the spot where the unfoncerence was held, the Yahoo Campus in Sunnyvale, Silicon Valley. You can browse over those historic screenshots in Flickr; I've added descriptions and links in the descriptions.

Just to illustrate this post with a couple of mashup maps of the event.

This one at Mapufacture created by Andrew Turner, that aggregates several Wherecamp created geoRss feeds (including one from Tagzania and plotted using Mapstraction's options, in this case, to show in in the 3d visualization of FreeEarth created by Poly9. Wow! FreeEarth can't now show very close details of their 3d model of the Worlds, due to lack of free detailed close imagery, but somehow the Poly9 has ways to overcome that shortage:

  1. getting Mike Liebhold actually build 3D structures,
  2. join the forces of the free market act, and let real estate developers construct things, as they have done with the moon's 3D equivalent of FreeEarth, the Moonplex.
And my own mashup:

I went to the Yahoo Campus at Tagzania, clicked on the Here tab to say I was there at that moment, and a message was sent to Twitter, including the code snippet with L: that would that tweet to appear in the exact spot of Twittervision.

Finnally, another joke, the extension that I made over Kyle Mulka's interesting new application, Cartiki, where plans and images can be uplodaded to make for detailed maps, as the exact spots where Wherecamp sessions were held.

Instead of Geotude's micromapping solution based in square units, Cartiki's approach is using a long long long breadcrumb that may come down to the tinyest detail!

The Street Gazetteer of Gipuzkoa

Luistxo Fernandez 2007/05/23 12:31
A nice web application that we developed for the regional administration is now available in English. The Street Gazetteer of Gipuzkoa, is a directory-like organization of all postal addresses of Gipuzkoa (a Basque province inhabited by half a million people) plus other geographic features as mountains, rivers, roads... all geocoded to their exact locations.

As a matter of fact, each postal address of Gipuzkoa, each home in Donostia or any other town, has its own Permalink. I live in Heriz 47, Donostia for instance. Even every kilometer point of a given road.

Joining the Ubuntu Tribe

Luistxo Fernandez 2007/05/13 08:34
We decided we needed a new laptop for the family, and we decided it should run free software. Last year we tried to do that buying a macbook, but it didn't work. Before installing Linux, its Mac OS X system didn't detect the wifi system we had at home. It was clearly a malfunction of those Macs shipped last year (case explained in Spanish here). We left the Macbook at the shop, and they refunded us. This year, we bought a new machine, a Sony Vaio laptop with Windows XP, and now we've installed Ubuntu Feisty (thanks to my coleague Txus Sanchez, specially).

Free Electrons?

Luistxo Fernandez 2007/05/11 06:34
Since Guggenheim Bilbao opened, every city around feels it also needs its own touch of imposing architecture, avantgarde and art. So, councils throw money in big big projects. Size of the building is important, and in Donostia, it'a a former 19th century magnificient tobacco factory (the Tabacalera) that will be transformed into the International Contemporary Culture Centre of San Sebastian (official english name, you see, spanish equals english when naming the city, I wonder why it couldn't be native Donostia...).

Tabacalera is in the process of becoming a proper museum, but meanwhile it uses its vast spaces to host things. Last sunday we went as a family to see video-art. Short arty films of some Lemaitre collection, brought together in a show called Free Electrons.

I made some shots (no flash) with my phone, and here comes the security agent. No photos allowed. I protested, we are against the tiranny of privative copyright and we believe art should be free. At the end, the guy accepted a technical excuse: I was making shots of my family. Yes, look at the interferences caused by my son with his toy plane.

If revolutionary art needs millionaire public funding to exist, so it be: after all, modern art is fun to see, and having it near home is good for family life. But I won't abide by the authorities' restrictions over the right of taxpayers to document our lives and cities. Free Electrons? Let them be truly free. When possible, I will keep shooting at Tabacalera, and my photos will be copylefted here. I'm not an artist, but I'll try to be loyal to the true spirit of avantgarde art.

Ignite talk at Where 2.0

Luistxo Fernandez 2007/05/07 12:19
Back to California. 3rd time in a year. Last June, I was there with a coleague attending Where 2.0, then once again in August with for family holiday, and now it will be again Where 2.0, end of May, and also WhereCamp at the beggining of June.

More importantly, this time, I have to address the audience of Where 2.0 with a Ignite talk about Tagzania! 5 minutes, 20 slides in a presentation that I won't control (slides pass every 15 seconds till the 5 minutes are consumed).

Hopefully, the best Californian blogger of the city I live, Wheylona, will help me polishing my pronunciation and delivering some surf-related jokes. ¿Or will they be about Schwarzenegger?

Personal geography and Tagzania

Luistxo Fernandez 2007/04/16 12:31

I think rumours about the death of sites like Tagzania, the geo-mashups, have been greatly exaggerated. That's the tone of several posts commenting on the irruption of My Maps in Google, but I see G My Maps as a positive move towards a wider adoption of the concept of “personal geography”, which I think is an idea not very much extended among mainstream Internet users, and I see opportunities there for Tagzania, one of those social mapping apps.

It’s also interesting to see Google catching up with concepts that we had clear when we launched in 2005: create your maps, adopt GeoRSS… Obviously, we have to push further, being ahead of Google is like an interesting challenge.

On the business level, others will feel more pressure. Ours is a side project for a small company, sustainable so far, and feeling no pressure from investors or the bubble-burst-buzz around. Our focus is strengthen the features of Tagzania to better please users, and don’t care much about Techcrunch gossip or how others may be sweating. As for the big actors, Google, Yahoo: We at Tagzania see their adoption of standards as a positive move, and the availability of APIs and web resources that precisely those giants are pushing, that’s only good news for us. Then they add direct services that start-ups have imagined first, but, of course, we know that’s going to happen some day, with this, that and many other things. But there’s room for niches and tailored community websites or services, no doubt about this.

The multilingual twitter

Luistxo Fernandez 2007/04/04 22:10
You can blog multilingually, following the ten commandments that I once decreed, or more informally, if you wish. But can you twitter multilingually? One obvious answer is yes, post whatever you want in 140 characters... But can you create a conversation with that and an heterogenous group of readers? A multilingual blogger can maintain coherent conversations, each post generating threads in that language in particular, as it happens with this Cemetery. But, that's not possible in Twitter... A Basque fellow twitter proposes a nanoformat for language in Twitter, lang:eu or lang:en. Not convinced with that either, although I think the nanoformat proposal is promising, including the clever usage of Yahoo Pipes shown there.

However, I like Twitter. Now I go out 10 days for holidays, no web surfing surely, but i'll post in the Internet with SMS these days. It will be there, in Twitter. You may follow me, but cannot promise you'll understand me.

Luistxo works in CodeSyntax, tweets as @Luistxo and tries to manage the automated newssite Niagarank. This Cemetery is part of a distributed multilingual blog (?!). These are the Basque and Spanish versions:

Ingelesen hilerria

El cementerio de los ingleses


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