Monthly Archives: March 2010

Cached Javascript Libraries

This is an extremely geeky blog entry, so unless you are into things like Javascript and web design and development, feel free to skip, I won’t be offended.

Ok with that out of the way, I hope the rest of the audience comes away thinking about all of this. In the past five (or fewer) years, we have finally seen a committed effort to transition the web into an interaction-rich user experience. This is in part due to concentrated efforts to make Javascript a more functional, cleaner language, which has resulted in the reciprocal effect of faster Javascript engines, starting a new self-perpetuating cycle of invigorating the ecosystem. Why we are seeing a Javascript explosion is because even though you are able to craft interaction-rich experiences with Flash, Javascript is a) Free, b) Ubiquitous (all major browsers come standard with a Javascript engine; as of now only Chrome comes with Flash) and c) relatively painless, mapping directly onto the HTML document model.

However there is an inherent drawback to crafting Javascript-heavy webpages that especially effects the browsing experience in poor-connectivity nations: everything from personal scripts to libraries must be loaded at run time. This is becoming a problem because most Javascript developers, myself included, are actually slowly become Javascript-[library-of-choice] developers. For example, I don’t develop in Javascript, I develop in JQuery. Or maybe the guy down the road develops in Prototype, and so forth.

As these libraries become even more ubiquitous and necessary, will it become worth overriding even the simple local caching option in your standard web browser of choice and instead implement an even longer term Javascript library unifier/cacher/updater/whatnot? A sort of Javascript pluguin a la Flash where the browser can maintain local versions of popular libraries and automatically redirect webpage requests for said libraries to the local cache before going over the pipes? This creates a long term reduction in transmission and would incrementally speed up load times on slow connections on a per page basis I would think.

Does this already exist and I am just missing it? Is it even worth it? Thoughts?

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The Shepherd Boy

There was once a young Shepherd Boy who tended his sheep at the foot of a mountain near a dark forest. It was rather lonely for him all day, so he thought upon a plan by which he could get a little company and some excitement. He rushed down towards the village calling out “Wolf, Wolf,” and the villagers came out to meet him, and some of them stopped with him for a considerable time. This pleased the boy so much that a few days afterwards he tried the same trick, and again the villagers came to his help. But shortly after this a Wolf actually did come out from the forest, and began to worry the sheep, and the boy of course cried out “Wolf, Wolf,” still louder than before. But this time the villagers, who had been fooled twice before, thought the boy was again deceiving them, and nobody stirred to come to his help. So the Wolf made a good meal off the boy`s flock, and when the boy complained, the wise man of the village said:

“A Liar Will Not Be Believed, Even When He Speaks The Truth.”

Aesop’s Fables

There are also two more cliche parables that come to mind when thinking about this fable: the first being that of the final straw the breaks the camel’s back; the second, that of leading horses to water, but not forcing them to drink.

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SEACOM Under Sea Cable: The Boat

Continuing with my trend of getting camera phone pics up, I thought I would share with everyone a picture of the Tycho undersea cabling ship that docked in Mombasa harbour for a few months last year. I believe this particular ship is a small one, responsible for making the landfall connection, while the larger ships remain out at sea laying the main trunk line, but I am not sure. I do know that this particular ship was responsible for bringing the SEACOM cable, while the TEAMS cable landed later, and I am not sure if the third cable has landed yet. Enjoy!

This ship brought the SEACOM undersea fiber-optic cable to Kenya

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The Mombasa Spice Market

This weekend I met up with some Canadian and a New Zealand volunteer/study-abroad friends and today (Monday) we went around Mombasa seeing the sites, me playing tour guide. I really need a little flag a la tour guides in Rome. The group mentioned they wanted to go to the Spice Market, and honestly, despite having lived here over a year now, I had never been. We changed that.

The Spice Market is a nice blend between the traditional open-air markets common in Kenyan villages, and the more restricted indoor-markets you sometimes see in the States (think of the original Quincy Market in Boston before it became the city’s food court). There are stalls all around, selling mostly the same vegetables I can buy from any little stall in Mtongwe, but sometimes having special things like custard-apples (a most delicious fruit), or passion fruit or gigantic carrots (village carrots tend to be smaller). The real treat however comes in your ability to buy fresh spices: black pepper, cinnamon (bark, not ground), saffron, cardomom, pilau, masala, and many others. Scoop them up, smell them, bargain over their prices, all in a trip to the Spice Market. Click on the pictures to seem them full size.

Spices at the Spice Market

A view of the Spice Market

This little girl was too afraid to tell me her name

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Data Mining

I love statistics, and I love data mining, through I admit its creepy how statistically predictable human nature is. Upon looking at my stats page (courtesy WordPress.com), I am noticing a natural trend in which of my articles are being read as well as what types of Google searches are bringing people to my blog. With that out of the way, I just want to say Hello New Peace Corps Kenya Trainees! If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or shoot me off an email. Would be more than happy to help in any way I can. Hope the blog is helping as well! Can’t wait to meet some of you in June!

Creepy eh?

Sorry for not having a longer post today. I am coding and my brain is all sorts messed up and thinking about vector math and wondering why I never took advanced geometry or linear algebra. Oh right, because I don’t like math. How could I forget!?

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Getting My Attention

Who would have ever thought that something as simple as how to get another person’s attention would become such a cultural battle. Over the past few weeks there have been some very explicit examples that just serve to remind me that sometimes, I still just don’t get, “it,” and though I won’t share the examples, I thought I would use the reminder to typify the experiences to my readers.

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Funny Phone Pictures

I am lucky enough to have a pretty good camera on my phone. However, it’s not easy for me to transfer photos to the computer, so getting these online has taken some time. For your enjoyment though, here are some pictures I have taken with my camera phone.

At one of the Matatu stages in Nairobi, saw this Matatu rockin' MA Pride

Warning Label on Fireworks

Saw this warning label on some Chinese fireworks at Nakumatt

The Tamarind Restaurant

This is where I went for dinner on my birthday. Pretty nice, not gonna lie.

The three of us got dinner for my birthday at the Tamarind

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A More Appropriate Blog

Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend who himself had just finished reading the articles linked to in yesterday’s post. During this conversation it came up that with my blogging all the time about technology I must be confusing my readers about true Peace Corps life. How am I really making an impact if my work has nothing to do with goats or donkey’s or children or digging latrines. Thus to clear up the confusion, I have come up with a new vocabulary to make my readers who expect a more, “Peace Corps,” Peace Corps blog more comfortable reading it. So to begin, here are some new terms I will be using in future posts:

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Point, Counterpoint and Counter-Point-Counterpoint

I had about a million different blog posts that I thought I could write up today as I sit in an empty computer lab, waiting for anybody to come but knowing nobody will because it’s finals and people just don’t want to be here. However, instead of use my time effectively and expressing my own opinion on a matter, I thought I would link you to three other opinions regarding what Peace Corps is. I do favor one, but I won’t tell you which one, though I am not as pessimistic on the subject as many people might think.

  1. The first piece, a blog post by journalist Nicholas Kristof, proposes a program called Teach for the World and briefly makes some comments on why he feels Peace Corps is inadequate in this day and age.
  2. The second piece is a response to Kristof’s by John Brown, who has a postfixed title of, “Adjunct Professor of Liberal Studies, Georgetown University,” which already leaves me with a bitter taste. I won’t tell you which post I agree with, but I will most certainly tell you which I one I do not, and it would be his. In response to claims about the education level of Peace Corps volunteers, I ask him to take a comprehensive survey of Georgetown asking, for example, who Gutenberg was and see how many of his students can answer that one correctly. Then, instead of picking on Peace Corps, maybe pick on America as a whole. Of course, being one of the instant-gratification masses myself, I would have to conclude such a request with kthxbye and maybe misspell everything; possibly get rid of vowels.
  3. The final article is a blog post composed by RPCV Peter Hessler that found its way onto the New Yorker. He responds to both Kristof and Brown.

Also, if I am taking the time to link people all around, please head over to fellow PCV Paul’s blog post about teaching and corruption where he also links to a good analysis by the World Bank (I guess they can do good work…) regarding what they call, “quiet corruption,” and it’s impact on development. Happy reading everybody!

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Perceiving Reality

This post is not nearly as profound as the title may suggest. Instead, I present my reader with two amusements for the day. The first is one of my favorite poems of all time; the second sums up my university experience in a nice graphic. I hope you enjoy!

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