Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Yerevan Street View? Already there!

While some hundreds of us are keeping up with the latest tech news, some of us light candles.. others desperately try to find a good contact in Google (Maps) to finally get it done... turns out some folks have already implemented it quietly.. without much any publicity ! Yerevan Street View is a reality!!!

Very accidentally I stumbled upon it on Yerevan Municipality website and couldn't believe my eyes. An interactive map of Yerevan, showing the bus and marshrutka routes... it even does have a Street View!!!! all the underlined streets are available for viewing in 360° angle. But it's not the full story yet.
It's possible to rotate and go forward thru the streets using the arrow, however it's not very smooth like in Google Maps. It even has a directory (with search) of businesses, addresses and places! 
Seems to me very useful.. if not only that 'nostalgia' for 90's in the design... :/

There might be many other useful features that have to be discovered. Check it out yourselves!

It's far from being perfect (the usage flash is often irritating here), images quality is overall satisfactory and we can note that a huge work has been done. Here in this snapshot we can see the shadow of a car with the camera on top.
here! our office building and the lunch place of some of our photographers :P
From the images I've seen, i concluded that most of the shooting has been done in autumn 2009, and some of it during the Erebuni-Yerevan day celebration in October.

It wasn't hard to find out the authors of the project - it's menq.am aka Aviainfotel systems, the one that has created the airport flight information website.

Wouldn't it be more reasonable if they partnered with Google on this? Seems like they didn't lack resources (including administrative) and could easily organize it. And why almost no one knew about this yet?

In addition, on their website I discovered the multilingual dictionary project. If not the flash, it would be priceless.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Social Media Day Meetup in Yerevan!

On June 30, 2010, the Mashable has announced a Social Media Day — a global celebration of the revolution of media becoming social. We are joining Mashable in celebrating the day and organizing a meetup also in Yerevan!
The place is TBD by tomorrow, but first we need to know how many of us there will be. Roughly 12 ppl confirmed their participation, but hey, i thought we have a bigger community of social media enthusiasts (willing to de-virtualize for a while :D)! So go now and RSVP!

Social media has changed our lives. It has not only changed the way we communicate, but the way we connect with one another, consume our news, conduct our work, organize our lives, and much more. So why not celebrate?
There is a lot of flexibility in what exactly a meetup can consist of. Some groups are organizing social networking hours at their local venues, while others are hosting speakers or panels. We want to give you the flexibility to tailor your meetup to what you think best suits your social community.
  • Follow @mashSMday: Follow @mashSMday on Twitter for updates and developments on the celebration.
  • Tweet: Use the #smday hashtag on Twitter. With so many participating, we should be a trending topic on Twitter on June 30. Also, we’ll soon be announcing a prize for those that tweet or post FB.

minor updates in my blog

I have a new virtual pet that's living on my homepage blog.

It's the cutie Hamster Ashotik! He will keep you company while you're reading my blog :)

You've probably seen and even played with the fish that I had here till this. I've let them free to swim in Sevan.

So my hamster can run in his wheel, drink water, eat the food you feed him by clicking your mouse. He will wash his face and then get back to the wheel (alternatively, you can click the center of the wheel to make him get back on it). He's independent minded and sometimes just does what he wants, so you need to accept his character :)

Besides, I've added the formspring widget so you can ask me anonymous questions. I'll answer if I like them :P

and I've added franseren.com on my reading list :) The author is new to blogging will appreciate any feedback ;)

My thoughts on gadgets and Apple

I'm a tech geek, however it doesn't fully apply to gadgets. Maybe it's because i'm a terrible saver and I can't usually afford that many gadgets and I've accepted the fact that I won't always keep up with the new technological developments. And that's one of the reasons why I'm not an iPhone user or Apple fan.
I've been always satisfied with the gadgets I owned and was able to use them to the extent of their capabilities.

Few months ago I started to implement my plan to save some money. Apart from being a terrible saver, I'm also a shopaholic. The plan was to store some amount from each month's salary in a special envelope, in a safe at my workplace. I wouldn't have access to it, unlike a bank account where I tried to put some savings which didn't work out.

The goal was to have enough money for a vacation in summer, somewhere in Italy (of course).

Due to some circumstances and I changed my mind about the purpose of the saving. The geek in me decided to invest the money in some gadgets that were crucially needed :)
Specifically, an Android smartphone and a Kindle. My post about the Kindle will follow next.
And here the story starts. 90% of people I communicate with were asking the same "Why not iPhone, iPad, iEsiminch?"
I'm not an Apple hater, but, obviously, not a fan either.
One of the reasons i didn't buy an iPhone, or a MacBook, or never thought of buying an iPad, is that I know it's addictive. The brand. But it's also a matter of convenience. Apple stuff is known to be not very compatible with other brands and it's in a sense - greedy.

My main arguments are depicted in a hilarious comic by The Oatmeal.
see the rest here: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apple

As to my gadgets, I will show them off here, soon :) Besides, I'm planning on organizing a 'gadget presentation' party for all those who have been asking me to show and give opportunity to touch them or tell about their features. Stay tuned :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Worship of the... gas. My discoveries in Aghveran

I spent my previous weekend in Karin resort in Aghveran. An AIESEC seminar was taking place there and I was enjoying my alumni status (which allowed me to do nothing but have the much needed rest).
view from our window
Karin resort, also known as the "Gas rest house" or Armrusgazprom's resort has been recently renovated, however was still quite affordable (AIESECers managed to negotiate the price 6000AMD per person for 2 days/1 night, including the meals for both days).

Aghveran is a popular resort for Armenians in summer. Many people drive to the river bank and organize a picnic the Armenian way. With barbecue and all related "tashakhust" (sorry, an untranslatable word!).

View from our window. The swimming pool of our resort can be seen (it was empty).
Also "Arthurs" popular and expensive resort can be seen in far right
The camping site at the river is indeed crowded and noisy. Many people can't do without turning on loud music which has to be Armenian dance/rabiz music that you normally hear on weddings here. And it's from the morning to late evening, from all the cars and pavilions. Altogether it makes an unbearable buzz (worse than vuvuzelas, i assure! :D).
Same unfortunately applies to many resorts of this kind. I was shocked seeing some people dancing to rabiz music from early afternoon to the late evening in the resort's cafeteria. I bet there wasn't any celebration. I have to accept that some people are just having fun this way.
music, reading on the fresh air. my great weekend
On the second day the music-mix heard from outside became too irritating and i had to close all the windows and doors to reduce the noise.
Now to the shocking discovery.

When going upstairs to the 5th floor where our room was, we noticed something around the corner, next to the elevator. Something we weren't expecting to see inside the resort's building. It was a... CHAPEL !
At least the writing at the entrance said so. I crossed the narrow corridor to find myself in a small room, with the walls covered with saints' images and icons. But this isn't the full story yet.
This picture is worth thousand words. There was a place to light candles, right below the gas-geyser (հայերեն ասած` բաքսի :D). I couldn't help but imagine myself the details of the worship of gas in the ArmRusGazProm's resort.

Maybe I'm a bit retarded, but is this an everyday occurrence anywhere? 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

BarCamp EVN '10 impressions and pics

My geekiest weekend of the year is over. It felt like a different reality to me. I was surrounded mainly by like-minded people who were so nice and geeky :)

I was enjoying seeing familiar faces, friends and getting to know new people. Of course, there were some people who were making me to seek the "report spammer" link, but i was trying to be tolerant :D

BarCamp is all about learning and networking (as most of the conferences), but what is good here, it's that there are no strict rules and the atmosphere is relaxed and pleasant.
thanks to photobzik for pics :)

The biggest shortcoming of this format for me is that because of parallel tracks - presentations taking places in different rooms at the same time - you have to make choices on what to hear and what to miss all the time.

Being a curious personality made me find an interesting topic in every half-hour track so in the end i was very exhausted.

While last year I was just a participant, this year I decided to present something myself. It's a great opportunity to train the public speaking and presentation skills. I'm so thankful for all the people that approached me with a feedback. It's invaluable!
photo by Sedrak Mkrtchyan / PanARMENIAN Photo
On the first day me and my friend Yervand made a presentation entitled "Geolocation Fun" that was about geolocation in general and Foursquare in particular. (find the PPT link below)

The room was very crowded and I was excited that some people actually downloaded the app right there and started to use Foursquare :). And also many people, whom i didn't know were approaching and saying that they liked my presentation :))) It felt great!

That night, when i was unable to sleep, I was planning my next presentation on Sunday. Right before the sleep i got the idea that I should present my "thing" on internal communication in companies and newsletters. I had a very few time to prepare, however I was feeling confident still everything was already in my head and i had already written a detailed blog post about it.
Even though I didn't have much time to prepare, it was good too :)
While I did my first presentation as @arpik, the second one was by Arpiné Grigoryan / PanARMENIAN Media (this is how it was written in the schedule). I was pleasantly surprised hearing that people came to hear a presentation because it was PanARMENIAN involved :) some even thought it was just about PanARMENIAN.Net :D
I really encourage all IT-related people to attend BarCamps since there's always lots of learning and networking. Not only you see meaningful faces of promising young people, you can actually watch for potential employees.
I really can't understand how anybody in IT wouldn't go there or thing that it's "useless". First of all it's a great platform to showcase new projects/services. Besides it's a great place to train presentation skills :)

Here are the links to my presentations:
Presentations will be soon put on the barcamp.am website together with the links to articles and blog posts about BarCamp and photoalbums.

More pics below.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

BarCamp EVN '10, for all the geeks out there!

I was just going to write about the upcoming BarCamp EVN, but decided to check my last year's post first :) Turns out I've described it pretty well then, and there's almost nothing new to add :D


This year i actually have my contribution in the organization.
Besides, i'm going to make a presentation this year and hope to see you all in the audience. You know, i'm still in the process for collecting experience for public speaking and I need your support and feedback :)

This year there will be 4 simultaneous tracks and still no breaks :)

There will also be livestreaming from all 4 BarCamp halls (hope the internet will be good enough :)

Don't forget to check the #barcampevn10 hashtag, there will be live-tweeting during the whole event. Hope this year there will be more of us tweeting :))

RSVP to the FB event and don't forget to register on the website.

There will be an afterparty at the Lovers Park and more opportunities for socializing :)) 

Btw, on Saturday Armen Grigoryan is inviting for "Innovative Talks" in Lovers Park which is definitely worth checking out and participating in :))