news/blog: 2005
November: Spark Conference / Amsterdam

Spark is a Macromedia Flash conference in Europe.
If you don’t know Macromedia or Flash, you find a very good article on Wikipedia here.
I love the possibility to communicate with millions of other people and read trillions of documents. I love internet. That’s why I always had interest in new technologies living in this space. One of the hottest of these technologies today is Macromedia Flash. That's why I visited the biggest European Flash event this year: Spark.

 
 

Amsterdam is a must to see. I cannot stop smiling when I think about it.


 
 
 
Just to demonstrate this technology, a few numbers: Macromedia Flash Player 8 was released 8 weeks ago. Since then 250 million users downloaded it. It means 5 million downloads a day, each day. A version of this player is on about 97% of computers on internet.
This technology supports so called Rich Internet Applications (RIAs), what are becoming more and more common.
 
 

For example instead of using input fields and dropdown lists you can use better and more usable controls.
To see a few examples, check out:
The Harley Davidson Customizer
Pension Calculator
Google preparing for some serious revolution

Accenture video on RIAs

 
 
We had a very, very good time with the OSFlash guys. They are all nice people.
Interestingly they got through the “I'm the hypercool guy, don't talk to me” level, so they are happy to answer your questions. (usually;)
On this picture you see the creators of:
XRay, Red5, MTASC, Actionscript-JavaScript Connector
 
 

One of the best lecture I've seen is called:
Usability as a Competitive Advantage
Here you find a good overview of the principles of Aral Balkan, what I find very usable.
These basic concepts will be my stable data in any user interface projects.

 
 
Amsterdam is one of the most charming places of this planet. It was rich in the 17th and 18th century and it is still rich. Not only in money, but in beautiful places, atmospheres, helpful people and great parties.
I've rented a bike and I had such a good time just cycling around I still don't believe. Everybody respects bikers and there are very good ways for them. You reach all important places in about 10-15 minutes. Much better than a car.
 
 
I looked into Anne Frank house and the Bible Museum. It should be called more like the Museum of Culture and Religion, because it has many interesting artifacts from all around the world. Worth a try.
Sometimes I get fascinated of very simple things. Look at these two cows here. Aren't they amazing, as they relentlessly churn the grass here in Vondelpark?


 
July: Florida


This view you have from the shuttle on Tampa airport. It is a big and still comfortable airport, I liked it very much. Take care of the Alamo car rental guys though, they will sell you more than you want for more than you want (masters of overselling and squeezing dollars from you). I think they’ve even sold the tank of gas two times. Now I should handle all this from Europe…

 
 


Never mind, I got this beautiful car
- a Chysler PT Cruiser - and I could hit the road. Driving is nice here, usually you have east-west and north-south roads (Horizontal and vertical). Actually without a car it is quite difficult to get around, so if you want to shop or go out, you will have four wheels.

 
 
 
This is the unique Clearwater beach with its white sand. It is special and feels also very good. I think this was the second time in my life that I’ve been into an ocean. I really enjoyed it, although it might be a bit salty, if you are used to sweet waters.
 
 
This ship surprised me from the south, so it was a must to take this picture. I don’t know, who found it out, that they use it as a tourist attraction, but these crazy ideas really color the life on the otherwise quite boring beach.

 
 
Although I don’t like the kitschy Walt Disney Style, I couldn’t stand visiting Epcot, one of the biggest theme parks.
 
 

I bet you would never find out what the above picture is. I help you: this is a educational machine for children. It is biased toward current biotechnology(you know, little kid, genetic food is very good for you...), but otherwise a pioneer method in eEducation.

The big restaurant in the middle of the modern exhibitions is miserable. They don’t even try to hide that this food is simply junk. It will take some time until Disney park managers realize that they need to modernize their whole menu. We need more salad, more natural dishes (not stored for weeks in the fridge). I think management should simply eat here once a month.

 
 
One favorite of mine was the robot box. It is unbelievable to see these modern car-making robots creating some interesting noise together. You can even control, which instrument the robot will play on. They are very fast, agile and robust. The producer of these robots might not know, what their name means in Hungarian: KUKA: Garbage can.
 
 
 
 
 
 
One of the greatest pavilions is the Chinese. They have a great movie theater what puts images all around you. You see them in front, on the left, on the right, behind you, still it is not 3 dimensional for me, because I don’t see any depth. It is a great experience anyway.
 
 
 
They have a gymnastic group performing each hour. The gymnasts are max 13 years old, but they behave and perform with unbelievable professionalism. The audience becomes amazed after the first seconds, because no American (European) boy/girl could do these feats. I wonder what the not so thin American (European) children think seeing these slim Asian performers.
 
 
We had an interesting theater experience by the Italian pavilion. Romeo and Anna was chosen from the audience to play the slightly modified Shakespeare drama. They were quite happy to play and we were more than satisfied to see them teased. :)
 
 
Epcot has dozens of fountains, mini-lakes, promenades and carefully designed buildings. The blue-orange building in the back is a special movie theater.
 
 
These drummers are from Japan. Hundreds of people gathered to hear them, because their sound is really penetrative. I really enjoyed not only the sound, but their traditional movements, what were so elegant and aesthetic for me I could not leave them till the end.
 
 
 
 
The fireworks in Epcot is a must to see. Just enjoy your meal in a foreign restaurant – you can choose among Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, French, English, Norwegian, Italian… - and wait until about 21:30. This is one of the nicest fireworks I’ve ever seen. They not only have a beautiful music – pyrotechnics composition, but the lighting of the surrounding buildings change accordingly. Even the restaurant I’ve eaten in changed its colors a few times :)
 
 
 
 
The second park I’ve visited was Seaworld. Left from the entrance - on the picture right - you find a beautiful pool, where you see dolphin shows three times a day. What made a longstanding impression in me is the world class direction, composition of the show. This high level integration of air, water and ground elements was not seen by me before.
 
 

 
 
There is an aquarium with a plastic tunnel in the middle. For a hundred dollars more you can even get into that cage and pet the sharks if you want.
 
 
The animal show was really fun. If you have children, this would be for sure an unforgettable experience for them. All kinds of animal – mouse, cat, dog even a pig – is trained to execute different tasks. I still remember the perfect design and execution of the program.
 
 
 
The diamond in the crown is of course the killer whale show. Don’t live a life here on this planet without seeing such a show. My words cannot express the quality and art realized in this event. I link a small animation for you.
 

 
 
After driving 7 hours downwards I arrived to Key West. It is the southernmost point of the United States. This small boat was the first thing I’ve seen there. They are really impressive, in and out of harbor.
 
 
This nice red house is home to red haired nuns only. They live their life at night only and they form a special cult. No, it is not true of course, but then I don’t know, why I made this picture. Maybe, because it is a nice red house.
 
 
The starting of a cruiser boat – the one you’ve seen earlier – is also interesting. If they get out of the harbor they are really fast.
 
 
This is the famous glass bottom boat starting by the jet sky rental area. It is worth a try, you will see at least ten fishes in their natural environment. Of course the real sights on this picture are my to hairy legs.
 
 
 
 
Sunset by Key West. It is a nice time here. Around this time you find all types of performers around the harbor.
 
 
 
 
Art Deco. This style needs to be known by you and by others as well. These houses are really unique and aesthetic as well. You can find tons of them on Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, one of the best know beaches on this planet.



I lived by a friend (Szasz Arpad) near Miami in Boca Raton in a house like this ->
 
 

 
 
 
Of course if you are feeling too good and delighted because of this beautiful environment and you need some heavy stuff, then visit the Nazi-Memorial. Here it is guarantied that you will not feel as good as you felt before. The Jewish show very plastically what happened, so no one forgets. Of course this deed should not be forgotten.
 
 
 
 
 
This building I admired for a few minutes because It is so nicely planned and built. I wonder, how the hell can they design such a beautiful tower on the seaside of Florida, where sometimes the strongest hurricanes dominate. I hope one day I can live in such an apartment or have a nice vacation here.
 

This is me and my car. Aren’t we wonderful?
 
 
This could be a good symbol: The ultra rich of United States on the ship look down to a bunch of poor black people, who just finished working in the gardens of another ultra rich family. This picture does not – of course – give back the experience I felt, however if you are here and look around, you will see such scenes.
 
 
This might be a typical scene in Miami. Even the trucks are typical, kind of good old American style. Actually there is much life here. Many come down from the North to work here, where they enjoy a beautiful summer and a calm, easy winter (not less than 15 Celsius). Miami - and Florida - is nice. Come, look around.
 
4th of July: Philly

Philadelphia is way to long to pronounce it many times a day. So Philadelphians refer to it as Philly, or Phil. It is much shorter and much more familiar that way.
I arrived on the nice train above. These silver worms have big seats and they stop right in the middle of the city instead of some far away airport.
 
 
I’ve found this lets-put-everybody-on-the-wall creation in the main station of Phil, just near the restrooms (wc-s). I’ve not found Winne-the-Pooh and Alice from Wonderland in it, but maybe I’ve missed them ;). It is nice anyway and makes waiting in the hall more interesting.  
 
 
This is a typical scene in Philly, you see wide roads and big space all over the place. The building at the end of the road is the City Hall. It is a specialty here: It is said to be the greatest stone building (no steel was used by making it) with William Penn on the top (his statue weighs 27tons).
 
 
This is the famous Love Park . Robert Indiana tilted the letter O, because love is never perfect. I don’t know about it, my love is perfect anyway. ;) The surroundings around the statue are quite gloomy, all kinds of minorities park here. This place was the best for skateboarding, until in 2002 they banned the whole sport from here.

 
 
There are skyscrapers in downtown, some very nice actually. They are not as big as in New York, but the feeling between them is very similar.
 
 
Phil has an extensive Chinatown. Here you see the entrance gate to this town. In this gate not one nail or metal part was used. The whole is constructed with wood only ,using traditional building methods. Of course not only Chinese live here. There are many Koreans, Thailand’s, Ukrainian, Ex-Yugoslavian, and so on, and so on…
 
 
Thousands of shoes were shown in the city centre as a memorial to the casualities in Iraqi War. There are groups in US actively opposing the war efforts by lobbying and creating such campaigns. These themes are of course hot and heavy, especially in New York. Maybe after a few years it will be different.
 
 
These dark statues are in the new Constitution Center. It is a building all about the United States Constitution. They have a very nice multimedia presentation about events like the war with Britain, declaration of independence, the Civil War and so on. You can even sit into a US jury chair. In all the states the jury is randomly chosen from the surrounding areas and the attendance is compulsory.
 
 
 
One of the biggest events in the United States is called 4th of July, the Independence Day. This is the day, when independence from Britain is celebrated. This declaration happened actually in Philadelphia, so the best place to be on 4th of July is right here. ( I didn’t plan it, but was very happy to experience it. ) They organize a big parade each year, with all kinds of groups. To my great surprise, the Falun Gong religious group was also coming.
 
 
 
 
Elton John was the star guest on the party, he gave a nice concert to about 400 000 persons. I had a lovely seat, from where I could see everything. The mass was annoying, but it was still interesting to participate here. I’ve bought some nice t-shirt for my mother, as she loves Elton John.I've also bought her an original silver dollar, because she is collecting coins. Please don't tell her, it will be a suprise :)
 
 
There was a huge fireworks after the concert, what made a beautiful ending to this whole show. I love fireworks although this was not the biggest one I’ve seen, there were very nice special effects. (Actually Budapest makes bigger fireworks at 20th of August.) It was nice anyway and I was a very happy person to be there and enjoy all this cavalcade.
 
3th of July: Washington

I started my discovery at 3. Of July in a park called The Mall. It is a beautiful place surrounded by many museums and sights. The Smithsonian Castle is the information Centre for all the museums around.
 
 
There was a great Festival in The Mall about Oman (Country under Saudi Arabia).
Hundreds of people have seen the art exhibits and the dancing shows. They called everybody on the stage to dance and of course I joined the crowd. It was a joyful experience with their really good music. (They use bagpipes like the Scots.)

 
 
 
 
They combined the festival with some food exhibitions. As I like honey, I was checking out this demonstration. In the next booth they were teaching, how to milk a cow, but I escaped that one. :)
 
My best experience in Washington was this Segway Tour starting from the Old Post Office. These machines are one of the best means of transportation I know about. You should really try them once.

 
 
We rolled along the FBI Building. You see almost no activity around. They might have secret levels and tunnels deep under the building. ;)

On the other side, you see the Capitol (House of US Federal Congresses) and the Supreme Court.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The National Air and Space Museum is a fantastic place for everybody interested in aviation technology. They have exhibits like the very first plane, the first jet plane, satellites and the moon lander. They make such good replicas, I wonder if they really landed on the moon, or they just made it up for the Soviets. ;) Their food is lousy, keep away from that.
 
 
 
As I’m a fan of books, I couldn’t miss this nice bookstore. It is amazing, how Barnes&Noble combines a huge and well designed bookstore with a café. They have rows of sci-fi books I love so much.
 
 
 
 
Outside there were police personnel all over the place, because a huge 4th of July rehearsal was being organized on Capitol Hill. The weather was beautiful, so many came along to make this a big happening. They had nice classical concerts and some pop music too.
 
 
Washington for me was similar to Bern in Switzerland. Things are going a bit slower and calmer than in the busy New York or Philadelphia. Besides in no other place have I seen so many fantastic and free museums together.
If you need good and reliable information, look up the Wikipedia Wahington entry.
 
June: New York

I arrived to New York at the 29th of June. Since then I’m having a really good time here, playing the usual tourist role in the city. This first picture I made from the terrace of a friend, who has a penthouse apartment looking at Manhattan from the Jersey side. This view is beautiful, but still, paying $5000 per month for an apartment I don’t find “normal”. (In Hungary you can buy a small weekend house for this money...)  
 
Of course one of my first targets was Times Square, one of the busiest place in US. No matter when you come here, you will find things going on. I was just standing here and observing the unbelievable cavalcade.

The top Broadway theatres are just a few steps away. I’ve checked out the Producers and the Phantom of the Opera. Both were executed professionally I loved them in spite of my jet lag.
 
 
 
I just passed by the Guggenheim Museum and made this picture. This museum is located on the "Museum Mile", where you find at least six other museum including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It features exhibits from Mesopotamian clay to 20th Century paintings including almost all the known styles. Check it out.
 
This little mirror box can be found in MoMa: Museum of Modern Art. With a special mirror they create the illusion of infinity. The ninety percent of the exhibits I find laughable, but there are about ten percent what is aesthetical for me (or at least inspiring)
 
 
 
I strolled in Central Park a lot. This green oasis was made in the middle of 19th century and since then the New Yorkers really enjoy themselves here.
You find many doing sports, wondering around or just relaxing.
On the next page you see a small volleyball field. I just went there and was invited to play a bit. It was great fun!
 
 
My best experience was the New York tradition called “Shakespeare in the Park”. This is a free theatre in Central Park showing some Shakespeare plays each sommer. You get the tickets in the afternoon(only one per person) and you see the play at 8pm. They allowed no photos, so I can just give you a link: Shakespeare in the Park
This sensational play is already a souvenir in my life.
 
Published on zbalai.com in 2004.