Work, GoogleNYC, Forts

This month got busier as there were many meetings throughout the week. We met up with most of the people in the team, and managed to discuss some statistics and indices which we are interested to monitor for our website, and how to go about creating a suitable analysis or visualisation for all these data. To prepare for this, I played with the Pachube API to be able to create datastreams and push data unto it, and Pachube allows us to store all these data and output as a graph or various other means. It was interesting to be able to use my raw PHP and Javascript skills to push and get data from a server. I learnt how JSON and XML requests works, and how to use AJAX to interact with all these data. It was quite insightful.

After that, as we get closer to the website launch, I began to create HTML/CSS templates for our website. It was a tedious process to convert the design graphic into multi-browser compatible code, it can be quite a pain. We tried to rush a demo so that my boss can show something to grant organisations. Along the way, I learnt the basics of the newer HTML5 and CSS3, which is still pretty fresh to me. I am still having difficulty making it compatible with all browsers.

We also have some new people on our team, and I created a list of to-dos and agenda for a User Experience (UX) discussion. As our website is still pretty in the mockup stage, there were a lot of questions in my mind about where do things go and how to certain things work. Some of the questions could not be answered immediately, and we had 2 meetings to talk about them. The first meeting was a more generic one with the rest of the producers in the team, while the second meeting was a more in-depth meeting to talk about user interface, user friendliness and interactivity. An important component is to how social networking works and where should they be featured in the page. I also learnt how important it is to have “call to action” buttons and links, to motivate users to explore the page.

Google NYC

I visited the GoogleNYC office here in Manhattan for a meetup about their 20% projects. 20% is the time Google engineers set aside to do projects outside of their normal job scope, to test and experiment new stuff that they might be interested in. There were many tech-savvy people at the talk, and of course, Google always feed people with good food. The 3 speakers talked about Google Spreadsheets and Docs, and also about the Google Art Project (http://www.googleartproject.com). It is interesting to see how the Google Maps and Street View technology was used to capture a virtual tour experience of a museum, allowing users to zoom in close to paintings and pictures. Very cool indeed! You do not need to visit the museum anymore!

Around NYC

The last few weekends, I visited a number of forts: Fort Jay in Governor’s Island, and Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island. It was nice to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, out of the island, into places which are more peaceful and quiet. I also visited the United Nations building and the Museum of Modern Art. There is a television broadcast studio branch of Trinity Broadcasting Network here, and I attended one of the recordings which was a Christian talkshow. It was very interesting to see how such a recording is done, with the cameras and the director’s prompting, and being part of the audience.

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