Review: Learning Raphaël JS Vector Graphics

I’ve been reading on JavaScript library — Raphaël — on the weekends. I work for a advertising analytics company working on web user interfaces so I got interested in data visualization in the process.

The key take away from this book is to create vector graphics and data visualizations in your browser using Raphael.js.

Raphael is a API that provides an excellent abstration over SVG. It allows you to add animation and interactivity to your web applications.

To learn more, there’s a good book by Packt Publishing — Learning Raphaël JS Vector Graphics which is written by Damian Dawber.

Learning Raphaël JS Vector Graphics

The book contains a good introduction to Raphael. It goes on to cover quite a bit on SVG and paths as well. The fourth chapter, Transformation and Event Handling gave good insights to prepare you for animations in the next chapter. The book eventually leads you to create an social media visualization.

If you’re interested in learning more about Raphael, check out the book from Packt.

Recounting 2011

New year’s coming and I am excited that I am going older a year. This year has been particularly fruitful. I completed most of what I set to achieve. Here’s a rough status:

  • On religion, I ascertain my religious stance. I am neither theist nor atheist. I found out about the word “ignostic” (or theological noncognitivism) and felt it describes the thoughts that are forming from 2008 to now and I learn that I am not alone.
  • On consumption, I have deeper appreciation on the finer things. I learnt to enjoy coffee in its bitter form. I finally got it.
  • On living, I am slowly discovering what my motto in life is. It’s kind of flaky and I should not discuss it now. I feel a lot of decisions that I make or do not make is based on this narrative. While it differs from most people, I found peace in that statement and that everything will be okay if I continue to invest my options towards that goal.
  • On work, I quit ONG&ONG because I got too comfortable. I never realized I crave for uncertainty that much. I traded stability for excitement. It’s the first step to reprioritize myself. I look forward to 2012.
  • On clothes, I am more willing to try out something less conservative. I wanted to believe that there is a perfect form of fashion but this is perhaps fundamentally incorrect. I am confident that nearly no one has any idea if a set of apparel and accessories is matching. It depends on the person having the confidence to pull off the most ridiculous of combinations.
  • On verbal and written communication, I could do better. I should work on this more in 2012. I tend to be misunderstood.
  • On health, I am less healthy than before. I will go to the gym more. Oh and by the way, I somewhat concluded that the most important thing in life cannot be health. Anyway who claims that haven’t thought through the subject sufficiently. If you believe in that and you aren’t a health product salesman please let me pull you out of this disillusion. Call me.
  • On music, I like fusion jazz and electro swing more. And Nicki Minaj of course. I got a pair of Marshall headphones this year and it is best investment this year. Thank you Joanne.
  • On people, I grew less skeptic and less protective of myself this year. Am I just waiting to be hurt really badly? Maybe. People are kinder to me this year — empirical evidence of something done right.

See you next year.

Review: CakePHP Application Development

I have done a few projects using CakePHP the past couple of years. CakePHP has grown to become one of the more popular PHP web frameworks, think of CakePHP as Rails-inspired PHP framework.

CakePHP Application Development

If you’re interested in CakePHP, you may like to check out CakePHP Application Development by Packt Publishing. This book covers lots of beginner topics such as installation and configuration. It is a good book to get started on CakePHP, it has a step-by-step guide that can be useful for starters. The book targets CakePHP 1.2 however, the book is written before CakePHP 1.2 is released so it does not have updated screenshots in it.

Generally the book’s concept is correct. The explanations are written as if someone is talking to you. If you do not like that style of learning, best you avoid this title. CakePHP Application Development covers a creation of a sample app — Quickwall — at the end of the book. Unlike typical tutorials that teaches you how to create a blog with XX framework, this goes into more depth on how best to use the inbuilt features of CakePHP.

My major grip on this book is its numerous errors in code, and a couple of quite unforgiving ones too. The books could have been better edited. Some of the codes did not appear to run and you have to look around to check for syntax errors. It isn’t often, still it’s a bad impression. The codes in the book are badly indented too. This makes the codes hard to read. It’s a good book to learn, but can be better.

Find out more about CakePHP Application Development here, you can also have a look at the book’s Table of Contents here.

Review: Django 1.0 Template Development

Django 1.0 Template Development, published by Packt, is a book that focuses on the templates portions of Django. Django is a popular Python web framework. Django models are easy to build but I always found the templates rather hard to understand.

Django 1.0 template development

Chapter 1, 2 and 3 gives an overview of how Django views work together. If you’re a developer, you shouldn’t skip that. I found myself understanding the Django MVC architecture better. (I come from a CakePHP background.) The author (Scott Newman) also did a good job introducing custom filters in Chapter 7. It’s something I haven’t explored till I read the book. There is also a chapter dedicated to pagination, also a must read.

The book is 272 pages, not too long. If you’re looking to improve your understanding on templates, this could be a good companion. I should also stress that the book is well organized. You can skip through the chapters and go straight to what you need without missing out much.

You can download a sample chapter here [PDF], and if you like it, you can find out how to get the book here.

Review: Watchmen (2009)

It’s been real long since I last watched a movie in the cinemas. Till recently, I’ve haven’t exactly been aware of what’s in the cinemas. I hardly note the posters. I walk across the streets with this auto-filtering device that simply gets all forms of advertisements out of my mind.

I watched Watchmen.

Watchmen poster
Watchmen poster

Two reasons:

  1. Well it’s Zack Snyder and I enjoyed 300. I also heard raves on the opening sequence that a friend advertised as “not to be missed”.
  2. My ex-girlfriend said I would like it because I think similarly or something along the lines.

So I got the tickets, some cliché popcorn and coke and got in. The theatre darken as my mind prepares for fifteen minutes of insane advertisements.

For one, Watchmen did have a great opening sequence. For the first time, a movie had my eyes glued to the names of the crew. I think I am already satisfied with the film even before the actual plot begins.

My cousin turned to me and asked “It’s M-18?”. “Yeah, but once you reached 24, M-18 makes you feel like a grandpa,” I whispered. My Watchmen experience goes something like this:

  1. Woah woah woah. OMG the opening sequence.
  2. Okay, so what’s Watchmen again?
  3. Still don’t really know who or what is Watchmen and what exactly are they watching. (Actually I thought Watchmen stops time or something.)
  4. So blue… Blue da ba dee…
  5. It’s getting a little boring, let’s guess who’s the bad guy.
  6. Can’t be the blue guy. He is too neutral.
  7. Okay I know who’s the bad guy.
  8. Okay let’s guess his agenda.

Argh! That’s how I watch movies. I think I killed my own interest in movies by guessing around. After watching the Watchmen, I start wondering if the author hates writing about superheroes or something. Watchmen is, nevertheless, a good movie. It just got boring at some point. But the action makes up for it. I probably give it a 3.5 out of 5.

My thoughts on Spore

Amazon users have spoken, one out of five stars for Spore.

People hated Spore PC game

It’s funny how so many people just goes in and rates a one to the game. Most people are displeased with the digital rights management (DRM). Some claim of rootkits being installs, some call it malware. As far as I know, there are no rootkits planted. Others claim of registration woes.

But what really annoyed people is the limitions of the DRM where you can only install in 3 computers. I am rather certain most people won’t be installing it in more than 2 computers. Using such limitations to curb piracy only pisses buyers. An Amazon user described aptly EA renting the software rather then selling it.

Anyway, I tried the game. It was fun in the beginning but gets tiring later on. The visuals and audios are great. And the game loads pretty quickly too. What I like about Spore is the concept, unfortunately it may be only the concept that I enjoy.

I think of Spore as a toy, less of a game. Reaching the end stages, there is this space stage, that really annoyed me. I hate:

  • motioning my ship from planet to planet.
  • hovering my mouse all around to find one stupid space system.
  • that radar thing that leads you to the item of importance tests my patience.
  • the fact that you never die in the game, you just get ressurected. I never wanted to die so badly in games. I miss my opponents killing me.
  • finding animals in the planet is just darn annoying.

I give the game 3/5 for breaking new grounds, nice audio and visuals. Each stage felt like a different game. It’s multigenred. I am not used to this style but it’s an interesting concept. I’m tired of the game after half of the space stage. Spore could do better with more online elements than just sharing your artwork.

Review: AT&T Pogo browser (it sucks)

And yeah, it wasn’t all that good. I got the invite some time back. I was preoccupied that time and I didn’t really explore well till today. Pogo is another one of those browser that does the 3D thingy (not that we actually need another more of those).

Pogo web browser

I wish the browser makers could wake up one day and understand that 3D browser is not something humans want – maybe cyborgs could’ve totally drool all over – but not humans.

Collections in Pogo

Pogo does a few things wrongly, they tried to reinvent the way people bookmark without a strong social element. They put all the 3D engine into this collections thing that look really cool if not for my 770 delicious link that basically hung the browser for a couple of minutes ’cause it’s generating screenies for the bookmarks. The 3D uses JavaScript which tends to give warnings due to script running too slowly.

And what’s with different names to the word ‘bookmark’. Internet Explorer calls it ‘Favorites’. Firefox calls it ‘Bookmarks’. Pogo calls it ‘Collections’. If I wrote a browser, I’ll call it – let me think, okay – ‘Elephants’. Whatever.

Pogo browser history

Another cool thing is the history browser, also uses screenshots of web sites. Pogo, unfortunately, is not intelligent enough to know how to give the appropriate screenshots, the offset is usually wrong and the screenies are either too big or too small never just right.

To worsen what already is bad enough, it uses Firefox 2 instead of 3 as the back end. Firefox 3 sorts out lots of memory issues and it’s amazing that I can now open 50 tabs and till smile. By the way, in Firefox 2, I used to open 50 tabs and chat with my friends on MSN just ’cause the browser is taking eons to respond. In Pogo, opening 12 tabs makes me cry.

Pogo logo

On the lighter note, Pogo does have a nice logo. (Somehow reminds me of string theory.) I felt it could’ve been packaged into a Firefox plugin instead of compiling a whole browser out of it. Associating a web site with a screenshot is not enough, the screenshot is just too small to allow me to know what I am clicking on.

My impression of the browser wasn’t good, it’s trying too hard to be different but has not necessarily succeeded in the usability department. Good try on aesthetics. The social element is missing too and there is no way to way any Firefox Add-ons which is just a deal breaker. Stars! Yea, 2 stars out of 5.

[Pogo is just a project name and would probably be called AT&T Freestyle, AT&T Lenz or AT&T Bezel.]

Review: The Machine Girl

Just watched Kataude mashin gâru. It is disgusting to the max. Sadistic humor. The whole film is sadistic. Even the gore is sadistic. Oh… Gore supposed to be sadistic anyway.

The Machine Girl poster

If you totally dig pure bloody fun. Go ahead to watch this film. Rated NC-17 in US. I had to skip several parts before I puke out my food. Here’s the trailer:

I sort of laugh a little at the English dialogues actually. For the crazy sadistic bloody humor and the ridiculous amount the gore… Well, I think I’d give this 6/10.

Book review: Holy Bible is clearly faulty

Amazon user Jed reviews the Holy Bible (Boldtext Pew Bible: King James Version).

118 of 123 people found the following review helpful:

This book doesn’t work. I’ve tried the “praying” method to get a new Porsche 996 delivered but to no avail. There’s nothing in the instructions about not wanting German sports cars but I tried praying for less ambitious things. I gave up when it didn’t even get me a Big Mac. In the early part there’s a bit about people crossing the desert and being sustained by manna from heaven, so you’d think that it would be able to manage at least a hamburger.

I’m disappointed and will contact the publisher. In the meantime I can’t recommend this book as it is clearly faulty.

Got one star out of five. Hope he gets a refund even though books in generally don’t come with a money-back-guarantee.

Review: Appleseed (2004)

I just watched the film Appleseed (アップルシード) by Shinji Aramaki (荒牧 伸志 Aramaki Shinji) who does design related stuff for Fullmetal Alchemist and one of those Naruto movies. Appleseed or Appurushîdo is a Japanese anime movie. It’s mainly 3D with character arts looking 2D to retain some sort of anime styling.

As usual, the poster:

Appleseed is a film about…

Panda thinking emoticon

Well… It’s an action anime film. The plot is a little… fuzzy. I think it’s about some alternate-human race that can’t reproduce because one scientist didn’t let them. Yeah, shit happens. But anyway, this alternate race and the human race sort of coexist together in one faction. At the more selfish faction, humans did not want this alternate race.

Humans are portrayed as selfish humans in this film (as with many other Japanese science fiction). But ultimate, the protagonist manages (of course) to overturn the situation and peace was eventually restored. This is not a spoiler, it’s one of those things you can deduce once you look at the poster and read the first two lines of the plot summary at the back of the DVD cover. Continue reading “Review: Appleseed (2004)”