Archive for the 'in English' Category

Minimalistic Google Docs

I really like the updated Google designs. Especially Google Docs with OS X Lion in full screen mode is something beautiful; the UI is minimalistic, but still everything you need is there:

Google Docs in full screen

Burj Khalifa – why 828 meters?

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Dubai’s ruler, surprised the world on Monday with a last minute change in name:

“The world’s tallest point should be associated with big names and I hereby officially announce Burj Khalifa bin Zayed.”

Former Burj Dubai is now named after Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the United Arab Emirates. Probably the latest $10 billion Dubai received from Abu Dhabi to pay Nakheel bond on December 14, 2009 is the reason behind the name change.

Burj KhalifaPhoto by Time

Fireworks explode around the Burj Khalifa during the opening ceremony.

The official height of the tower was announced as 828 meters during the inauguration ceremony last Monday. It seems that the CEO of Emaar pushed the height (check out also my earlier post Building Burj Dubai) as according to a blog post in The National (Jan 7):

From the beginning of the design process, Mr Alabbar insisted on the incorporation of the number 8, according to Adrian Smith, the designer of the Burj Khalifa.

Alabbar also told that the project did not need any financing and Emaar made profit (via Emirates Business).

The opening ceremony was a spectacular show. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to locate the official footage in HD, but here are the opening fireworks by ITN News (the last 3 minutes are the best):

According to the media the total cost for the Burj Khalifa project was about US$1.5 billion. However a figure of US$4 billion is mentioned several times in Skyscrapercity discussions. It is interesting to note that if the 1 billion euro figure is correct, the cost is same as the world’s largest passenger vessel’s; MS Oasis of the Seas maid its maiden voyage on 5th December 2009 (photo of the ship while still in Finland).

And the world record for the highest building BASE jump was made on 8th January 2010 – 672 meters (why is there always errors in the details, like the height in this one by BBC):

Burj Dubai – 824.6m – opens today

The tallest man-made structure ever built – Burj Dubai – is to be officially opened today, 4 January 2010. The ceremony starts at 20:00 UAE. The finale will feature 10,000 firework effects on and from the tower, Ahmad Al Matrooshi, managing director, UAE, Emaar Properties, said.

Under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai, Emaar is pleased to announce the inauguration of the Burj Dubai on the fourth anniversary of is Highness’ Accession as the Rule of Dubai on 4 January 2010. (source)

Downtown Burj Dubai

Downtown Burj Dubai

The construction began on 21 September 2004 (excavation commenced in January 2004), with the exterior of the structure completed on 1 October 2009. The completion day has been delayed a few times, and the interiors are to be completed by the end of year 2010. The final height of the building will supposedly be announced too, but according to Fury on Skyscrapercity:

IMO this thing is 818.0 as per the plans measured from the floor of the ground level to the top of tier 30. The CTBUH‘s height to tip will include the 6.0 meter high concourse level beneath the ground level and the ~0.6 meter high beacons on the top = 824.6 meters.

From the top of Burj DubaiPhoto by Imre

From the top of Burj Dubai

Now I need to find a live stream. Maybe Livestation?

Applications for Snow Leopard

As Snow Leopard is finally out, it is time for me to perform a clean install and get rid of the junk that had gathered during the years. In addition to the web services and applications already installed with Mac OS X 10.6, there are some programs I utilize during my extensive use of Mac and the Interwibble.

I made a similar list back in 2007 when Leopard was released. As Apple has added features, some add-ons are not needed anymore, like the once handy Facebook Exporter for iPhoto). Also a nice development is that the majority of the apps include an auto update feature – there is no need for manually reinstalling yuor apps.

Online:

  • Skype – make calls from your computer.
  • Adium – instant messaging application connecting to AIM, MSN, Facebook chat, and more.
  • Transmission is a BitTorrent client for Mac OS X.
  • Cyberduck is an open source FTP and SFTP browser.
  • Firefox web browser (solely for testing purposes as I prefer Safari).
  • Acquisition – search and download files.
  • Dropbox – sync your files online and across computers.
  • TweetDeck – a simple and fast way to experience Twitter.

Audio and video:

  • VLC – media player supporting a large number of multimedia formats.
  • HandBrake – convert DVDs to MPEG-4.
  • Last.fm scrobbles your tracks to Last.fm.
  • Livestation delivers a range of live radio and television channels to your computer over a broadband network.
  • Spotify (free with an invite) is a music streaming service.
  • Airfoil ($25) – Send any audio to AirPort Express units, all in sync!
  • Senuti ($18) is a simple application that allows you to transfer songs from your iPod to your computer (for a feature you don’t likely need that often it is not worth the price, but in some situations the 30-day free trial might help).
  • XimpleMOD plays your ancient music files (IT, S3M, XM, MTM, MOD, UMX and MO3). Back in the 90’s LCIII’s Motorola 68030 was too slow to handle .mp3 format…

Other:

  • AddressBookSync – download profile pictures and other Facebook data to Address Book.
  • GoogleEarth – zoom from outer space to street level in seconds.
  • Cooliris – browse Google Images, Flickr etc. with a 3D wall.
  • Soikko on suomen kielen oikoluku- ja tavutusohjelma (ehdoton asennus, kaikessa mitä koneella kirjoitat on tämän jälkeen oikoluku).
  • Combine PDFs is an application to combine several PDF files easily.
  • Carbon Copy Cloner – make complete, bootable backups (not necessary as Time Machine handle the same task, but for some situations CCC is better).
  • Onyx allows you to run misc tasks of system maintenances and more (not yet Snow Leopard compatible).
  • LCDtest is a simple application that helps you test your liquid crystal display.
  • Saft and Safari Stand add many useful features to Safari like URL shortcuts (not yet Snow Leopard compatible).
  • YummySoup! ($20) – recipe management app for cooking, shopping, sharing, and organizing recipes.

Widgets:

  • Sol – tells you what time sunrise (dawn) and sunset (dusk) are.
  • iStat Pro – the ultimate system monitoring widget.
  • TunesTEXT – search and save lyrics in music files automatically while using iTunes.
  • Currency Converter – 170 world currencies; great for online shopping.
  • Dashalytics – quick access to Google Analytics statistics.
  • Symbol Caddy keeps a bunch of common special characters at fingertips.

In addition to these freeware/shareware programs, must have applications include:

  • EyeTV software, together with compatible hardware, turns your Mac into both a TV and a Digital Video Recorder (DVR).
  • Coda for web development
  • Microsoft Office – documents, spreadsheets and presentations.
  • iWork ’09 – Office in Mac way. Keynote is great!
  • Adobe CreativeSuite 4 for all creative professionals.

iPhoto ’09

Yesterday’s Macworld 2009 Keynote brought no new iMacs or Mac minis, but a lot happened on social media/blogging side: MacRumorsLive was hacked resulting in Steve Jobs news and Twitter still couldn’t handle Macworld traffic. However, the Keynote brought some interesting items to the software side. I comment shortly on two of the announcements which are in my opinion the two most important ones.

I wrote back in June 2007 about rumored geotagging in iPhoto and how that would enable new ways to browse photos and content (yes, there are other products out with these capabilities). Half year later iPhoto ´08 introduced a feature called Events making navigation a lot faster as photos could be grouped. Yesterday Apple introduced iLife ’09 with iPhoto ’09. Now there are two new ways to sort photos: Faces – iPhoto uses face detection to identify faces of people in your photos and face recognition to match faces that look like the same person; you have to tag only a few faces and iPhoto will suggest the rest of the tags. Places is the other option, it uses geotagging to find information about the latitude and longitude of a photo. This information can be supplied either by a newer camera with built-in gps capabilities, or manually by user input (as an example a photo taken at Eiffel Tower is labeled automatically with “France,” “Paris,” and “Eiffel Tower”). There’s also built-in support for Facebook (if a person is tagged by other user in Facebook, the tag gets synced back to your iPhoto) and Flickr (built-in geotagging). You can add, remove, or edit photos, and they’re automatically updated on Facebook and Flickr. Check out a video demonstrating the new features. iLife ’09 is shipping in few weeks, meaning I can get ready to add geotags to my 5,500 photos – could take a few hours…

iPhoto '09

iTunes Store received three changes: The biggest of all is getting rid of DRM (just think about the wasted resources on this). All 10 million songs in the iTunes Store will be offered DRM-free by the end of March (8 million songs are already available DRM-free). Additionally, the iTunes Wi-Fi music store is now compatible with 3G and EDGE, allowing iPhone users to download songs with the same price and quality as from the desktop iTunes. Finally, beginning in April, music companies get more flexibility: the iTunes Store will offer pricing in three tiers ($0.69, $0.99, and $1.29).

Oh, and the Apple Keynote Remote for iPhone is nothing new, but still a handy addition (but it costs 0.79 €).

Nakheel Tower (~1140m), Dubai

Cityscape Dubai 2008 started today, but Nakheel (owned by the government of Dubai) stole the show revealing plans for Nakheel Harbour & Tower yesterday, 5th of October (press release).

Nakheel Harbour & Tower will be home to over 80,000 people and a workplace for 40,000 more. According to Nakheel, the precinct minimises car use and maximises train, bus and water transportation. The development will cover an area over 270 hectares and include another 40 towers ranging in height from 20 floors to 90 floors (over 300 meters). The final height of Nakheel’s proposed tower (former Al Burj, Tall Tower) is a secret, as is the price. The company would only say it will be more than 1 km tall. The tower and harbour project will take more than 10 years to complete. O’Donnell, CEO of Nakheel, has confirmed that the foundation work has already begun.

Nakheel Tower
Nakheel Tower (~1140m) designed by Woods Bagot. (photo by Nakheel)

Massive schemes are announced as Cityscape 2008 – the largest business-to-business real estate investment and development event in the world – is proceeding. Two other projects with centerpiece skyscrapers are worth mentioning due to their proposed heights: 1 Dubai, part of Jumeirah Gardens (by Meraas Development) and Anara Tower (by Tameer):

1 Dubai
1 Dubai (850m) is a mega-structure consisting of three linked towers of staggered heights, with mosaic-like glass and aluminium-mesh cladding, designed by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill. (photo by Meraas)


Anara Tower (700m) designed by Atkins. (photo by docc)

As stock prices collapsed around the world today amid growing fears that the credit crisis would trigger a global recession, it is interesting to see how many projects will be cancelled due to lack of financing.

New Layout for kuusanmaki.com

It is done. There are still some minor bugs to iron out (like the status error) and I’ll update this post with some background as soon as I’m finished.

Blow Up for Flickr

Back again. Major revamp to this weblog is still to be implemented. One important aspect is to add social media parts and I did minor testing with K2 using three columns, but I was not satisfied with the result. As I’m not willing to put too much effort on the theme itself, I searched for other solutions and found a good candidate. But more of that later.

For the last few days I have been migrating my photos to Flickr. The work is still in progress, but I found a wonderful small program called Blow Up. It uses Flickr public API and some flash to present Flickr photosets in a great-looking, fullscreen display.


View albums by typing a valid flickr username here.

You can try with my flicker feed at photos.kuusanmaki.com. This address works also for me as a quick link if there is a need to present my photos. The gallery might take a while to load, but it is great and intuitive!

Building Burj Dubai

Just had an inspiring conversation with one friend of mine. I mentioned a documentary about skyscraper history I saw few weeks ago and want to share it now.

It is about technological innovations, seven major leaps which made Burj Dubai possible. As for now, Burj Dubai is under construction and standing 637 meter high. The structure is generally believed to top out at 818 meters, but Emaar is keeping the final height a secret. An interesting article was released in Wired Magazine, where Bill Baker (the head structural engineer at SOM) tells interesting facts of the engineering process.

Top of Burj Dubai

Burj Dubai crane shot

But back to the documentary: Channel 5’s Big, Bigger, Biggest – The Building of Burj Dubai (April 2008). Seven key inventions (elevator, materials, etc.) are presented with seven landmark buildings and clarifying animations. Many documentaries are so-so, but htis one is really worth watching. Thanks for UKHolidaydude for sharing this. Here is the first part:

And here are the rest of the parts: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

Redesigning

Interesting weeks ahead. Or at least for the ones who are following this blog; might include only me. However, I have planned some major changes. I just updated my backup platform and moved to Time Capsule and while I’m waiting Apple to release new notebooks to replace my MacBook (2.0Ghz, 2GB RAM, 250GB HDD, Mac OS X 10.5.2), wait to see the following noteworthy changes:

WordPress 2.5 – First of all, I’ll update to the just released WordPress 2.5 (hopefully 2.5.1 is out by then issuing some minor problems which are always present in first releases). I have had some spam problems lately which I hope this update will also address. New theme may be applied too, but I have to make some further comparisons. Wait to see a more interactive design including comments, photos and links.

Flickr – I’m planning to move my photos to flickr after all. Now as flickr just enabled short videos and has an adequate RSS support (iPhoto subscriptions are possible, but not for full resolution images), it is the best service at the moment.

Posts – There will be more posts in Finnish as I noticed I’m writing mostly in English, excluding some short emails and sms. I hope to get back on track with weekly updates too. I know, I have said this before, but now as my graduation is getting closer it might be possible…