Blog Archives

#London Chapter 4: My Propeller

I’m a bit late with my this but it has been my 4th “Londonversary” at the beginning of the month. It’s getting harder and harder to write something because so many things happen every day and I have always less and less time for my blog.
The truth is.. I’m getting probably older and I’ve even forgotten having a page somewhere around the web 😀

This has been a damn intense and fast paced year.
I had the same feeling in the past, but this time I can guarantee it was even too much for me. Probably, this post is not even for you but just to make me realize how things happen so fast and so many all at once even when you cannot control them.

Work

I tend to really like what I do, so don’t take this “section” as a negative bit of this year.
It’s what probably I’ve been really invested in for the the last years but I’m getting better also at other stuff 😛

Since the beginning of my journey at Bloomberg, I had a chance to work on a new Android app which is part of what the company offers as complimentary service to its customers. As usual, there were some hard times at the beginning because I had to understand how things were working but I managed to find my space and perform a lot of improvements those were not affecting just me but the entire ecosystem we were trying to build. I also had a chance to interview tons of people and for the first time in my life do some volunteering teaching math to kids(at least I tried haha).

It finally came the time to move on. I wasn’t really planning to change for any other job but something really big this summer came. For a lot of people this would be just a chance to work for the biggest social network in the world, adding a nice stamp on their CV. Honestly, while this can be true, I don’t really give a fuck about my CV and if you think like this is gonna be the perfect recipe for failure.
For me this is all about learning a lot of new things, working with the most skilled people in the World and tackling problems that any other company cannot even dream to have.
Even if it’s just the beginning, It’s really an honour working at Facebook and trying to strive towards the company’s mission.

Travel/Misc

In March, my girlfriend and I moved to a different flat and we had crazy time packing all our things and getting rid of all that crap people cumulate in years(someone was right.. garbage collection has few tiny little drawbacks).
Around the same period, I went for the first time in my life to Sicily with my friend Kfir and it was absolutely awesome. It was still to early to have a swim in the sea but it’s definitely a place where I’d like to go back again.

In May, I had a chance to go for the second time in my life to Google I/O. The conference was nothing crazy and not really well organized but I had really good time with chaps from Badoo, Deliveroo and many other companies.  I also had a chance to meet Vincenzo and Emilio from SmartLauncher, a really cool mobile company from a city call Manfredonia which is definitely in my todo list in the place to visit.

In June, my girlfriend and I went to Copenhagen for the third time and it was awesome.
The girl that was hosting us through Airbnb left us a couple of tickets for Tivoli and it was great to go there even if it’s such a touristic place 😀

In July, taking advantage of a friend’s wedding, we finally had a real holiday in Portugal. It was my first long road trip and it was awesome to see everyday different cities, cultures and traditions. If you haven’t visit the country, I’d definitely recommend give it a chance and your holidays will definitely be great ones.

In September I spent some time back in my hometown with my family and few friends.
It was awesome to see them again after a long while. Sometimes I feel kind of sad because I cannot play cards or have a coffee with my grandma, watching my grandpa still working from 6am, driving with my father, seeing my brother and old friends, cooking with my mother, … whenever I want.
On the other side, staying far from home and trying to achieve better and better results gets rewarded every time I see their eyes: that sense of admiration and happiness when they see me and what I achieve doesn’t have a price. This is my propeller.

In November, I went to Menlo Park CA for my Bootcamp and I had two awesome weeks seeing Facebook even closer and leaving a bit the American Dream. I honestly don’t know if I’d like to live in California but as of Today and looking at past experiences… you never know what future is preparing for you.

Last but not least, I still have to go back home for Chrismukkah(XMas).

I think I’ve never travelled so many times in my life in a year both for work and leisure.

Merry XMas to everyone 🙂
Simone

Curious/fun facts

  • My lemon tree looks the same as probably one year go
  • My last 3 jobs last 1 year and 3 months (cit. LinkedIn)
  • The number of hours it took me to prepare for Facebook interviews was directly proportional to the number of wine glasses I had this year. The only difference is that interviews had an end but wine hadn’t 😀
  • In California, even if you have five/six lanes each side in the highway, you’ll still get stuck somewhere with your car

 

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Android at #io16

(As usually…) It has been a while since my last blog post 🙂

This time I’m coming back just to tell you briefly about Google I/O 2016!
Last time it was back in 2013 when I went with my friend Massimo and since then a lot of things have changed. The Android platform got a lot more mature and my impression is that Google started to focus more on simplifying the developer life while still gaining a lot of new data.

I’m not gonna talk about VR, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. These are really cool technologies but my developer heart still belongs to an Android made of custom UIs, Content Providers, messy fragments, multi-threading, memory constraints,… and… why not… Android Studio!

It’s kind of funny because back in 2013 when Tor Norbye and Xavier Ducrohet announced Android Studio starting to ditch support for Eclipse, I was a bit upset. After few months, I started to appreciate IntelliJ and all the efforts that the Android Developer Tools Team made in order to have a first class Android IDE integration/experience.

…but this is the past!!! Without forgetting about being dwarfs standing on the giants shoulders, let’s focus on the present and what’s ahead of us! 🙂

This Google I/O 2016 came with a lot of news:

  • Android N will support native Multi Window with Drag&Drop capabilities.
  • ConstraintLayout: not a RelativeLayout, not a FrameLayout, not a LinearLayout, not a PercentageBlaBlaLayout,… but a completely new ViewGroup that comes with a full integration in a new layout editor for Android Studio. The power of this new tools is based on the promises of flattening drastically the View hierarchy creating constrains between Views and parents! 🙂
  • Java8 support + Jack Compiler
  • An APK analyzer to inspect generated APKs and help you try to remove un-necessary and/or un-optimized resources
  • Instant Apps is a new feature that will allow you to modularize more your application allowing the user to download just a single use case of your app, without having to install a full APK. Even if it might look a bit strange, this tool could be really handy when it comes to introduce your service to new users, engaging them little by little.
  • Android Wear 2.0: even if it comes as a preview, it will have a new enhanced user interaction and more immersive experiences.
    • Watch Faces will support more than just time and battery info. There will be a chance to support more complicated(complications) data that will provide useful info to the user.
    • Notification will come with a new interaction style and paradigm.
  • Firebase: this is kind of hard to describe. The most simplest description that comes in my mind is “A magic box that contains a lot of tools to help you build better apps.  All these kind of little things those are taking a lot of time when developing new features in your apps will become definitely a lot easier. A/B testing, analytics, syncing, login, GCM,… have been bundled and connected(not all of them) togheter into Firebase, giving you a simple way to check and maintain them.

…there is definitely a lot more and you can check it out on the Google I/O 2016 Youtube channel!

I hope you’re gonna enjoy some of the pics I took over there 🙂

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Cheers,
Simone

P.S.:
..if you live in UK, have a long weekend! 🙂

#London Chapter 3: Be ambitious! Be bold!

Time flies when you are having fun and apparently today it’s my 3rd London anniversary 🙂
I was just reading few minutes ago the second chapter of my adventure in the United Kingdom and I’m really surprised to see how many things have changed during the last year.

Driven by my dream of getting better and better, I tried to hit most of the targets for this year.

In January, I have finished my Mobile Cloud Computing specialisation on Coursera and my project was also awarded with a tablet that my mum has definitely appreciated.

The following months have been really intense and plenty of events that is better to summarise in just few points:

Yesterday, I also started a Machine Learning course that will try to keep me busy till to the end of February.

I don’t know why… but I still feel that I haven’t done enough things during this 2015. I can justify this, saying that otherwise I wouldn’t know what to do next year… even if I have already got something in mind 😉

After a long period of silence on my blog, I hope that all my achievements have turned on you the desire of striving always for something more. Someone would say YOLO(you live only once) and I definitely agree with that: life is to short to let it fly away.

See you at the next time 🙂

Cheers,
Simone

Miscellaneous (part 6)

Being at the last step of our Android Wear journey suggests us to make some assumptions and considerations on how to take advantage of this new platform in real scenarios. Beside this, we are going to have a brief look at some of the missing elements that we did not touch before, focusing our attention on answering the questions those might have risen in the mind of the readers while going through the entire path.

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Data Exchange and Sync (part 5)

Since the beginning of our journey, we have tried to create a wearable experience starting from our existing handheld app. A first working solution has been achieved just taking advantage of the WearableExtender that has allowed us to easily extend the status bar notifications, providing detailed info and extended functionalities to the wearable device. Even if this approach can work for the majority of the applications and it is really straightforward to achieve, it has some drawbacks in terms of achievable features and availability of content on the smartwatch. In fact, if the smartphone and the wearable device are not coupled, the latter one cannot offer any more access to the previously shown content. Keeping in mind that the wearable device is not a substitute of the handheld one but more like an extension that should try to simplify the user life, we have then exposed a limited number of functionalities into a custom wearable app. In order to achieve this result both applications currently share a common module but are decoupled in terms of single application modules. In this way it is possible to recycle and share code elements like the ContentProvider, the models and common utilities but at the same time keep distinct the different platform based implementations. In Pimp my Wear, this solution has led us to a wearable application that can be used by the user even if the two devices are temporarily disconnected but at the same time to a situation where the content gets out-synced. In this chapter we are going to have a look at how the Wearable Api can help us exchanging and syncing data between the two different devices.

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Pimp my Wear (part 4)

In Colonizing Wearables, after a first attempt of running the existing handheld version of the Books application on a smartwatch, we ended up creating a simple Android Wear module that displays the number of available book entries. This has been done not only to discover more about Android Wear, but because a handheld app should not be just ported to a wearable device. During our journey, we have introduced few of the new UI components offered by the wear support library. Among them, WatchViewStub has allowed us to handle different screen shapes, figuring out at runtime the type of display. We also had a chance to understand the reason why and how the wearable module has to be included into the handheld build. Therefore, the goal of this part is to evolve the previous module into something that can be easily used by user and that tries to follow as much as possible the android wear design patterns.

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Colonizing Wearables (part 3)

In Landing on Wearables we have approached wearables devices extending our existing app’s notifications and explaining briefly how to bind them to our development machine for debugging purposes. Now it is time to study more in deep what we can achieve directly on a device running Android Wear, understanding the constraints and the possibilities that the platform introduces. We will continue to keep as reference the Books application previously developed and we will try to create an Android Wear module.

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Landing on Wearables (part 2)

In Introduction to Wearables we had a look at some of the concepts those are the foundations of Android Wear. In this part we are going to skip completely any considerations on that and we’ll have a look at how things work underneath. In particular, we’ll have a look at how to extend existing application’s notifications and how to debug on wearables(this second part will be used for the following tutorials). In order to achieve this, we’ll start with a sample application that runs just on a handheld device and we’ll try step by step to extend it, trying to create a beautiful user experience even on a device running Android Wear. Read the rest of this entry

Introduction to Wearables (part 1)

Wearable devices are definitely one of the most exciting and coolest technologies of 2014 along with drones and smart cars. Hardware producers, software companies and even start-ups are pushing the boundaries beyond what is just being on a handheld device, struggling to open new challenges and attract new customers. Something similar has been already seen when smartphones were just at the beginning of their appearance, but this time the purposes and targets of this technology are a little bit different. It is not just a matter of keeping the user connected with the World outside but it’s more about offering him new services, getting more from/into his life. Sensors can collect data about user activities (heart rate, pedometer, burn calories, sleep hours…) allowing to know more from the user’s context and his behaviors. Embedding them on wearable devices(smartwatches, rings, betls,…) can grant almost a 24 hours coverage, attracting the user to use something that he is already used to wear but with more functionalities and fancier. Read the rest of this entry

[Story Of My Life] London Chapter Two

It looks like that Today it’s my second year anniversary here in London 🙂
I want definitely to be a lot more concise than the past year but at the same time I want to write something that will remain as stone in the path of my life. Read the rest of this entry