Archive for July, 2005

Jul 26.05.d206/w30
Visit from the Embassador

I have some random free time and so I’m posting this quick entry. The American ambassador to Spain came to visit this morning. We showed him the progress on our site so far and then he, his wife, daughter and colleagues walked around the labs to see us work. He gave a little speech, saying that it’s nice to see Spain, Chile and the United States working together on a project like this, because cooperation between countries makes his job eaiser to do! We took a huge group picture of everyone on the project, which you can see at left!

Jul 25.05.d205/w30
Carnivals and Festivals

The past few days have been fun. The bomb that went off was small and blamed on the ETA group, a Basque terrorist organization that wants Galicia to be its own country and not part of Spain. Anyway, I’m sure the news made sound more serious than it really was.

Today, the 25th, is the Day of the Apostle, and the town is full of pilgrims and people who have come in from all over Galicia. At night, the streets are packed. It will be 3 am in the morning and there are hundreds of people sitting out in the streets, families, children, everyone. It’s amazing. Last night was the big fireworks show at the cathedral; it was pretty spetacular. I went with my friends Brian, Kristen and Katherine to see the fireworks and then to the carnival afterwards. The carnival has been going on for several days now; last night was my third night there. Since it’s a night carnival, there are plenty of lights, loud music, announcers’ voices (can’t understand what they’re saying though), games, food and of course rides! On the first night, we did the bumper cars, a funhouse, this crazy ride called “the Boomerang” and this other frog-hopping ride that spins you around in a circle and hops you up and down. Of all the rides, the Boomerang was the scariest. It’s like a giant pendulum, and the riders sit in the part that swings back and forth. As you swing, you go higher and higher and spin around til you’re practically upside down and you definately feel the G-forces on your body! One time on that was enough for me! I did go on the frog hopping ride three times though.

Oh and the cotton candy was ridiculous. For 2 Euros they give you a HUGE amount. It’s like that with the other foods, too.

Jul 21.05.d201/w29
Helado de la Fresa

My new favorite food is strawberry ice cream (fresa in Spanish). I’ve had so much of it in the past few days. There are ice cream vendors on practically every street corner. I had a cone with 2 scoops of strawberry ice cream today. I want some more!!! We ordered Chinese take out last night, I got chicken with mushrooms. It was all right, not as good as Charlie’s or Asia Cafe but at least it cured my craving.

We had a project-wide meeting 2 days ago, where Rich gave us an update of how things are coming along and the deadlines for the next two weeks. We want to have this site done on the 28th. 7 days…a week from today?! Eeek! we’ll see what happens! I mean, even if we’re not 100% done in a week, we’ll certainly be close to done.

I’m going to be working on programming a 3-D map that highlights all of the towns visited on the story about walking the Ancient Pilgrimage route and has a picture popping up by each town. I’m really excited about this site so far and what we’ve got. On Tuesday, we saw more photographs for the photo stories and they look great. Also, the info graphics are cool. There’s going to be an interactive monastery, an a chave game, an illustrated horreo (for the farming story), a fishing graphic, a food graphic I believe, a graphic about the rapa das bestas, an interactive zanfona, a story jukebox and more.

I really want to go swimming. There’s a pool nearby. I also want to do some more exploring around town. They’re setting up for the 25th, which is the Day of the Apostle. I hear there’s supposed to be some serious fireworks, festivals and street fairs.

Jul 17.05.d197/w28
Enjoying the days…

Time is really flying by. I’ve been enjoying these days though. Got up early yesterday morning to wash my clothes. That was easy, but a little annoying because the dryers don’t fully dry your clothes. I saved 2 euros by hanging a some clothes up around my room to dry. We’ve been making dinner as a group and having grill-outs in the park. Last night we had chicken fajitas, they were delicious. I also had some delicious strawberry ice-cream the other day, as well as pizza. Today for lunch I had a ham and cheese sandwich with fries. It was from that same sandiwch place across the street from the journalism school that I didn’t like before. But now that I know that “j(x)amon york y queso” means regular ham and cheese, I can get good stuff.

I’ve been hard at work on the player skin. Lots of refining and revising and then more refining and revising. The air conditioner was broken in the lab for 2 days this past week, and working there became unbearable. I had to do some work in my dorm because I couldn’t concentrate. If I think it’s hot, then you know it’s hot! Thankfully it’s fixed now.

I didn’t get a chance to go back up to the mountains, because us designers are supposed to stay in the labs now to work. However a beach trip is in the works. We have some awesome programmers on our team who have built a custom content-management system for building all of the slideshows and putting the stories together. So building the stories shouldn’t be too hard. The hard part for us designers is programming all of the info graphics that will be in the site. Thankfully I’ve only got one info graphic to worry about – a cool topographical map that zooms around showing all the locations on The Ancient Way. I’m going to get a bunch of jpgs and will have to make it work, but I’m not worried because we have a lot of people around who know enough programming.

That’s it for this entry. I hope all is well at home!

Jul 12.05.d192/w28
Knowing, World View, Epoché

Just three thoughts about life I’ve been realizing the past few days, especially when I had some time to sit down and think during the trip to the mountains

1. The only thing we can know for sure is the fact that we know nothing. (But that’s a paradox because if we know nothing for sure, then how do we know that we know nothing?)

2. For the most part, people in Western societies (myself included) are programmed to think in a linear fashion, of everything having a starting point and an ending point. That’s one way to view the world. Every beginning is actually an ending, and every ending is a beginning. So beginnings and endings are the same thing. So there’s no such thing as either. With a gradient circular view of life, there are no beginnings and endings. There’s just a continuum. Everything has always been there. With this type of view, it makes it easier to consider that maybe, just maybe, the universe had no beginning. It’s always been here and always will be here.

3. Epoché. Hmm, it’s hot and I’m about to suffocate in this lab. I think I’ll save this one for next time. Until then, feast your minds on this: . Shortly before I left for Spain, my brother, cousins and I were watching a video of our Grandfather give an entire lecture on this concept (he’s a Professor).

Jul 12.05.d192/w28
A Different World

The past 48 hours were amazing. I mentioned in the previous entry about meeting up with Anna and Nacio in a small rural mountain community where a healer lives (see photos in the link above). I got up very early on Sunday morning (about 6:30-ish) to meet Bonnie Jo and Bernardo, who were also going up there to look over the photos Anna had taken so far. The drive was 3 hours; we had a little trouble finding the road up there, but we eventually found it. The view was spetacular. No words or photos, I’m afraid, can do it justice. The road litterally was winding up the mountain, and you could look out the window and see these amazing landscape. HUGE hills, trees, the valley far below and even more mountains off in the distance.

We met Anna and Nacio in the center of the little town. When I say little, I mean little. It’s very isolated, they don’t get many visitors. Everyone knows everyone else. The houses are stone on the bottom with straw roofs. There are several of these towns sprinkled about around the mountains. Each house has a lot of land, very hilly. There are dogs running around, cats running around, cows running around, chickens running around and bugs flying around in your face.

Jul 09.05.d189/w27
Going to the mountains tomorrow

Tomorrow I get to go up into the mountains to visit this little community that Anna and Nacio are doing a story on! One of the people who lives up there is a healer who works with herbs. It’s going to be a great experience. 3-hour drive, but worth it.

Otherwise today I have not been very productive. We had a nice lunch at an Italian restaurant, pizza and all. Yum. After lunch we walked around the park. After doing absolutely nothing in the lab for an hour, I went up to my room and did absolutely nothing. :) Now I’m back here in the lab, doing absolutely nothing. I really love this Power Book G4 I’m working on. I hate to say it, but it makes my beloved ThinkPad T22 look like smut. I’m seriously considering buying a PowerBook, but they’re extremely expensive.

Even though it’s been a week, I’m still not used to this time zone. It makes no sense. Time doesn’t flow logically here. It’ll feel like 2 pm and I look at my watch and it’s 8. It doesn’t get dark until after 10. Eating dinner so late also throws me off. Weirdness. I’ll probably get used to it just before we leave. LOL. :)

Jul 09.05.d189/w27
Lull Before the Work Begins

Things here are well. I’ve been working a lot on those player controls, changing them as needed. Lots of changes have to be made. The only way I can really concentrate on that stuff in an environment with a lot of people coming and going is to have a lot of music on!

Tomorrow I get to leave this general area (the dorm and journalism school) and go out and see the country again for a change. Anna and Nacio have a new story now, it’s in this remote village litterally in the mountains. One of the men there does healing with herbs, but the community is so small that the story is going to be a “place essay” on the community. Anna and Nacio have been up there for 2 days now, gathering pictures and audio, and I’m going up there tomorrow with Bonnie Jo Mount (the photo coach. She works for the News & Observer) and an audio coach from Galicia, I can’t remember his name at the moment. It’s a 3-hour drive from here, so we have to leave early.

The other story I’m responsible for designing, the walk, is coming along as well. I’ve got to talk with Pat (the photojournalism professor from UNC) about when I can meet up with the photographer and audio person on the trail. I’m thinking of walking the last leg of their trail into the Cathedral with them. We’ll see what can be arranged.

Jul 07.05.d187/w27
What a Day!

Hi everyone, I’m here with another post! Yesterday (July 5th) was pretty boring, I sat in the lab most of the day doing some work. I volunteered to design the media player controls for the site. Timeline, play button, scrubber bar, volume sliders, etc. I spent most of yesterday and this morning working on it.

There was a huge discussion about the functionality of the player last night and a semi-argument about it during our designers´meeting this afternoon. Basically our media player has to play more than one type of media: photo slideshows, video and interactives. We want the users to have 2 ways to experience a story on the site: the first way is to have a simple, automatic timeline with color indicators on it that let you know where a photo story is, where an infographic is, etc. The user just hits play and sits back and enjoys the show.

The second way to experience the story is manually. There will be a button called “view story assets” below the timeline mentioned above, and when the user clicks it, the timeline flips over to reveal little blocks that represent the actual content (pictures, video, interactives, etc). The user can click on those blocks and manually visit a specific picture, watch a specific video, etc.

Anyway, the argument involved disagreement over how to display the “story assets” in the expanded view. I´ll spare you the details except to say that we finally reached an agreement in the end. And pictures were being taken during last night´s frustrating discussion because we´re going to look back on it after all this is done and laugh our heads off.

Jul 04.05.d184/w27
On the Field

Happy fourth of July! I hope the day is going well.

Today I went with my story team to visit the healer, whose name is Genaro Martinez. My team consisted of Anna, who is the photographer and Nacio, the audio reporter and me, the designer. Nacio drove us; the ride took about an hour. We saw lots of nice scenery on the way there. Farms, plenty of hills and houses with dark pink roofs in the distance. We stopped at an interesting cemetery on the way and walked through it, some of those graves were so old that moss covered them completely.

We had a little trouble finding the house, and thankfully Nacio (who is from Chile) can speak both Spanish and English. He asked these people who were sitting outside of a house where we could find Mr. Martinez’s place. Turns out Mr. Martinez was one of those people sitting there!