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#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

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[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

The fall of Facebook: the rebirth of social.

FB on Nasdaq

FB on NASDAQ

The title is just a provocation because it’s not only referred to Facebook but to all those kinds of social networks which are similar to it. In particular I’m referring to all social networks which are based on the concepts of groups and closures. If you think just a few moments to the reasons that have led you to join them you’ll find a strange need to spy people which live near you. Maybe I’m exaggerating but how many times have you looked at some pictures of your neighbour or your classmate or your workmate without knowing him/her? I really don’t believe that at least one time you don’t have done it. Features like people tagging, friends tips,… have helped you to perform these kind of actions in a simply way without thinking of it. Sometimes it’s very easy to hide ourself behind a screen to view many different contents but unfortunately you end up to use these social networks only to inspect contents and other lives without contributing to the real sense of Social.

In my opinion social networks like Facebook, Google+,… will not have much future because they only move the concept of friendship circles into them without offering features related to real needs of people. They work only as people’s boxes leaving them the possibility to choose what kind of box to create into them: and this is the failure of the system. In this way they split two times their user base loosing great opportunities.

I think that we can consider some important notices/considerations of the recent moments to prove that this kind of social manner will be a complete failure:

  • Facebook acquires Instagram for $1 billion
  • Facebook on NASDAQ: is glorious as everyone expected?
  • Google+: is it different from Facebook or just same box with different presentation-logic layer?
  • What are the difference in Twitter, Instagram or Foursquare?

In the last month Facebook has acquired the “new” social platform Instagram. Someone have said “this is a moved to bring the Mark Zuckerberg creation to the Chinese world” but in my opinion it’s is an investment in a network that can really bring the concept of social to the extreme level. On Instagram you receive many good feedbacks on your photos without reducing your perspectives only to small boxes and increasing your sense of satisfaction. If you think to the American NASDAQ, Facebook is entered with a great value for every stock quote but loosing many points in just some days. Actually its value is increased (3.22%) but I think that in the next month it will decrease again. The Instagram purchase will be a good choice to improve Facebook service and at the same time the interst of many user. On the other hand if you consider Big G with its social network you’ll find a service similar to Facebook but that force you to migrate to another platform. This is boring and I don’t believe that it’ll be massively used. I have to admit that Google+ is very well integrated with other Google services but it’s not enough to be innovative. So if you consider other social platform like Twitter, Linkedin, Foursquare, Grooveshark… you have to understand that their power states into a single great box, not in just many small realities, and that they work in a single field that involves thousand and thousand of people. I hope this not seems cynical but this is what I am seeing in this Wide World Web.

As developer I think that all kind of applications and systems (except for low level ones) have to include and support social features, the most used of the moment, because in this way they can interact with an immense user base, granting themself more visibility and popularity.

What do you think? Am I a black dolly that thinks only strange things? 😛

[TUTORIAL] Working in the background

In this tutorial we’ll talk some aspects that involves a mobile developer in many situations. In particular we’ll deepen concepts like threads (in particular AsyncTasks) and JSON parsing through Google GSON.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Before you start, take a look at:

Now you are ready to perform this simple steps:

  1. Take TWITTER_URL that you find in the project in AsyncTaskActivity
  2. Past it into JSONLint board and press Validate

In this way you’ll view if your JSON is valid and how it’s structured.

After that you need to create (there’s mine 😛 ) an android project in which you add into AndroidManifest.xml the internet permission and an Activity that’ll be your ListActivity implementation. It’s important to that because our application uses an Internet connection to contact Twitter servers. After that you need to prepare your xml layouts and resources: you’ll find them into res folder.

Now there is the core of your application that it’s related to code implementation and in particular to the AsyncTaskActivity and HTTPUtil that you can read in the attached project.

  • HTTPUtil: it’s a very simple utility class that performs a get request and returns the result as String
  • AsyncTaskActivity: it’s the ListActivity implementation that I have provided to allow you to download some tweets from Twitter and show them on screen

Into your ListActivity implementation to avoid to stop your main UI Thread we’ll implement the data fetching into a background Thread. That’s not a good practise but a must that grants to user a good experience and  to avoid “Your application has unexpectedly…. bla bla”. Hence, I have provide an implementation of AsyncTask that allows you to perform into the background the following operations:

  • contact Twitter servers
  • retrieve JSON response
  • parse response into a List of Tweets

In fact all these operations are performed into doInBackground(….) method. All those updates those involves UI, in our case list refresh, are done in the UI thread and for that are done in onPostExecute(…). Pay attention that if you perform these actions out of your main Thread you get a fatal error and your app crashes relentlessly. If you try this tutorial on your mobile phone or into emulator you’ll obtain the screens that you can see in the SlideShow.

The solution that I have provided is very simple and there are other mechanism that connected to data persistance grants to user a better UE (user-experience).

I hope that this tutorial will be very helpful,

Simone