Early adopters

Today I installed again PhotoShop on my MacBook Air (painfully going trough a reactivation process on the phone since I had forgotten deactivating it on the old MacBook).

Back in 1989, my father started importing in Italy a little boxy scanner for 35mm slides called Barney Scan. It was the first scanner to use fiber optics to backlight slides.
But by far the most interesting feature of this scanner was the software that came with it. It allowed to do some very cool effects using multiple channels, something I had never seen before and immediately fall in love with. 
That summer I was working with movie director Dante Majorana on the special effects of a movie titled “Orlando Sei“, and I remember flying back and forth to Rome taking with me the NuBus card of that scanner, without which the software would not work.
The same software was later licensed to Adobe, they renamed it PhotoShop and the rest is history.
Apparently only 200 Barney Scan scanners were sold.
Which means that I’m one of the first 200 PhotoShop users. 20 years ago. <sigh>

It’s spring

Our plum tree is the most optimistic tree of the garden: as soon as it starts getting a bit warmer, it explodes in a storm of blossom. Every morning we get this stunning view from our windows.

Then one day the Bora start blowing and all flowers fly away. It’s spring.

Next Saturday I’ll wake up in San Francisco.

Poets in the clouds

This morning I followed this fantastic document by Dave, and in less than 30 minutes I had my virtual server up and running in Amazon’s cloud.

Of course I knew it could be done, but I had never really found the time (and the courage) to try doing it until I got to this page which provides all answers in a simple step by step guide.
I think that the fact that a regular user can start his own server in the cloud has some of very relevant consequences.
I was exposed to the concept of “desktop web server” by Dave back in the Frontier and then Radio days. I have always thought that being able to run your own server on your own computer is a very powerful concept. 
Since back then “our own computer” was the personal computer we were working on, it made sense to run server software on it. Unfortunately a personal computer quite often is not the ideal environment to run server stuff which needs maintenance, support, backup, and all the stuff that system administrators do.
But now, everybody can own any number of virtual computers in the cloud and run all kind of services. Easy, cheap, powerful, safe and somebody else is making sure that all system work. Brilliant.
The other very interesting concept of this experiment is that I didn’t start just a random Windows server on EC2. I started Dave’s server, with the software and services that Dave had installed on them, and this, of course, can make software distribution and entirely different business.

Not enough air

For the last year I have been quite comfortable with my MacBook Pro + MacBook Air set-up. I would basically take the thin Air on the road and move the heavier Pro only when it was really needed. I tried to do my best to keep the Air “light” in every sense: running everything in a browser (no Office, no PhotoShop, no additional apps) and bought a very little bag for it (no big backpack and no external drives, adapters, headphones and other stuff). It has been a huge relief for my back and it works pretty well while on the road.

A couple of weeks ago, at the office we needed an additional MacBook Pro quickly, and I decided to give up mine: after all I thought I could live just with the Air.

I was wrong.

airCpu.pngThe MacBook Air is the perfect second computer: it’s light, thin, beautiful, but it hasn’t enough power to run modern (albeit bloated) applications. Even watching a video with a flash-based player, with only one browser open, after a while becomes too much for the little machine. 2Gb of Ram should be plenty, but today it means running Skype, a browser… and maybe another app before running out of memory, and since the HD is quite small and slow, on this machine you really want to avoid swapping at all costs. And I haven’t even tried to install PhotoShop.

Well… I guess it’s time to start thinking about my next “unibody” MacBook Pro 🙂

New technology for Nòva100

We just went live with a new version of the Nòva100 site.
While, of course, I’m enthusiast about all our projects and deeply in love all our clients, Nòva100 is a little special because it has been the first site where we tested our idea of using an RSS aggregator as the core of a content presentation system.
The idea behind Nòva100 is simple: find 100 interesting people, and leave them completely free to write what they want on their blogs. Then automagically generate a site to aggregate and present their work, offering some new ways to discover interesting stuff.
What is new with this new version of the site is that it is based on the latest version of PagesPlus, which will provide a lot of added flexibility to the editors of the site.
I recorded a quick demo to show how editors can add manage content on any page of the site.

I’m quite happy with the quality of the technology that we have been developing lately, but most of all I’m incredibly proud of the amazing team of people I work with every day at Evectors.

Social Media Influence 09

Last Tuesday I joined Lee BryantAndy Hobsbawm and Robin Hamman on a panel titled “Enterprise 2.0” at the Social Media Influence conference in London.

It was very interesting going back to a conference in London almost five years after the Social Tools for the Enterprise Symposium.
Five years ago we believed that we were at the beginning of a major change in all dynamics of communication within companies and between companies and their clients. Well… it looks like today we still think that we are at the beginning of a major change in all dynamics of communication within companies and between companies and their clients.

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What did change in is that today a huge number of people is using social tools in their everyday life (quite often the very same people working in those same companies). Sooner or later companies will have to follow.
I guess that one of the main challenges companies face today is that they still consider communication with their clients an activity separated from the rest of their workflow, managed by those weirdos at the marketing division; expensive efforts structured in campaigns which last only few months, that must be creative and innovative, and bring sales in the very short term.
At the same time while the “rest of us”, on this side of that communication activity, might be more or less entertained and amused by these activities, what we really want is be able to communicate with simple and effective tools, allowing us to get in touch with real people inside organizations who can help us when we need them.
So while it is nice that agencies come up every day with innovative ways to exploit the fact that more and more people spend their time on social media sites, I guess that we should try harder to get companies to understand how to use these tools in the simplest way: to let people interact with other people.