In the outer Baku
Friday, March 27, 2009 10:02:00 PM
Another country, another BarCamp. Never the same, always interesting. And we have some new toys to show off. And after travelling for about two days straight, it is nice to sleep in the same bed twice in a row (although at one point it looked like I might give mine up for a friend who was stuck without anywhere to sleep. When it comes down to it, I am not that fussy - if it isn't my bed then I can really just sleep where I land).
I arrived in Baku a day ago - since then apart from working I read "Ghost Map" about John Snow and Henry Whitehead's investigation of a cholera outbreak in London in 1854. Mum read my copy a while ago, and said she didn't like it. I did. An interesting and realistic description of how scientific progress really happens, based on a fairly important case study, and followed up with a reflection on cities and why we live in them (and why we might do so more or less in the future).
Today I went on a tour of Baku - seeing the old city and the palace, the 20 January monument, and bits of Baku before the BarCamp opening party. With a real band playing... Baku is old, with lots of modern, Eastern with lots of the West in it, by the sea, and from the middle of the day to the middle of the night it has been misty turning into downright foggy. Cool, in a victorian mystery movie way.
Tomorrow will be the BarCamp proper. Meeting old friends and new, learning a bit more about life on the Web around the world it is meant to serve. I will be talking about things happening at Opera and in standards. The new Opera Turbo beta is what I was specifically asked to talk about. A desktop browser that uses a proxy service to provide compression, but being built into the browser gives us more ability to customise how it really works. Right now there is just a beta available for public testing, and we announced today that it is also available in our new Opera Mobile build. This is cool not because the idea of using a proxy for compression is revolutionary, but because having it inside a browser already makes it easy and helpful, as well as simplifying the job of making it do what users really want it to do.
I'll also talk about the Opera geolocation build that we released yesterday. This is right now a highly experimental version - the privacy interface is really very simplistic and the information is provided from a single service, but it lets developers get out and play on Windows (which is a widespread platform) instead of forcing them to do it with mobile phone bills attached. I hope it also gets people to understand security ideas a bit better, since this is so concrete, and understand that the mobile web isn't something qualitatively different but another form of the web at large, a way that people use to access things they really want.