Month: January 2012

BibServer and BibSoup: sharing distributed bibliographies

My bibliography visualized on bibsoup

My bibliography visualized on bibsoup

The openbiblio group from OpenKnowledge Foundation has came up with a nifty idea: sharing all the bibliographies, without trying to make the golden bibliography, but actually making easy to share everybody bibliography in a easy way.

The current implementation is at bibserver, while you can upload your own biblio using bibsoup.

I’ve uploaded also mine, which opens the post with a bubble chart visualization, and you can browse also here:

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy New Year! (It’s only few days the Chinese one has started ehehehe) It’s the Tiger year if you are wondering.

P.S.: Just discovered the report only now, and I though it was good idea to share :). Usually I follow the western calendar.. Usually..

Is eating local possible?

Given to the advance of peak oil, changing to a more sustainable living is becoming a must from a maybe. In this view, the transition movement is doing pretty well, and here in Cambridge the Transition Cambridge movement is also gaining traction. A lot of actions, completely grassroot, are under taking place and getting recognised. Check out for example the last post about growing spaces.

A very brave initiative is been carried on by 6 people of the Cambridge Carbon Footprint, where they decided to try to eat local. I think it’s very good idea and they are blogging about it here.

Here an image of the last Friday supper


On the same note, an initiative to make local food easier to spot is undergoing and I’m personally working on it. It’s called, and you can stay tuned it either subscribing to the form, or just keeping in touch to be sure to know when we are going to give it a kick 🙂

Growing spaces gets funding from Cambridge council

Apples in the sun

Directly from the Cambridge News, Growing Spaces, a Transition Cambridge Project, gets funding from the council:

Cllr Sian Reid, the authority’s leader, said: “It is very encouraging to see how many enthusiastic and dedicated groups we have working to protect and enhance our local environment for the benefit of us all.

“I am so pleased the council is able to provide this extra support to projects that echo our commitment to climate change reduction and sustainable living.”

The project to grow food on disused pieces of land received £3,000 and is being organised by the Transition Cambridge group, which has already planted fruit bushes and herbs at five places in the city, including Norfolk Street, Chesterton Road and Hawkins Road.

Organiser Stephanie Ferguson, 27, said the combined food production capacity of all the wasted bits of land in the city was massive.

She said: “We’re trying to rejuvenate pieces of land which have fallen into disrepair while at the same time starting a new source of local food.”

Very well done to Stephanie! She helped out at our Transition Food Group Stall at Mill Road Winter Fair.

Thanks to Ivan to have picked it up and signalled in the Transition Food group MailingList.

Scientific Method for startup: The Lean Startup

Last Friday I was at the Lean Startup talk given by Eric Ries. You can follow his blog here. The talk was very good, and gave an overview of what is in the book.  I’ve bought the book several weeks ago, and I have to say that I found it remarkable.

The main idea of the book is to run startups as experiments. In particular a startup should focalize to build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) which is used to test a precise set of hypothesis. The result should either confirm or negate the initial intuition. The Minimum Viable Product should be considered as a test bed. It’s not just the “Ship it!” idea, it’s organic to the Build-Measure-Learn cycle. This cycle should be the fastest possible to achieve what is called the Pivot, the time when if the things are not working, it is time to change completely the strategy and try something else.

These are a lot of concepts all packed together, so stay with me and I’ll try to go through them.


The building phase is when you are focalized in creating the first prototype. The first prototype is utopia. What is really interesting is the MVP. The only goal of the MVP is to test some hypothesis, to better understand the customers needs (the real customers): what they want and what they like. Real customers using the real thing are completely different story from the what you can get from the market research.


Measuring is very very important. Understanding what is going on is a must, but even more important is to understand where to look and what to measure. A very interesting concept introduced in the book, to understand what are the real metrics to keep under eye,  is the engine of growth. The engine of growth is a metaphor, comparing the process which makes a startup growing with a combustion engine, which needs to be tuned for the best performance. The engine of growth is the main way a startup will grow, acquire new users and become a sustainable business. Three main engines are suggested in the book: (i) the paid engine, where the revenues are used to acquire new users, using advertisement and so on, (ii) the viral engine, where the software or the service gets automatic diffusion thanks to the massive support of the users and the virality as well, (iii) the sticky engine, where the users are coming back and their are addicted to the service provided. Each engine has different type of metrics which is vital to that type of engine.


The learning is the part where the experiments ran are used to understand what is good and what is bad. Because we started with clear falsifiable hypothesis, it is possible now to declare if the objective has been reached, or if we didn’t hit the point.

Persevere or Pivot

Being on top of your metrics, and getting the outcome of the experiment is all in preparation to understand what should be done in reaction. In particular the decision to Pivot or to Persevere. Eric at the talk suggested to schedule this meeting ahead of time, to avoid the stress to announce it, but also to have a fixed point. This could be used has the deadline date, from where it is possible to work backwards, understanding which metrics are needed to arrive at the pivot meeting with all the informations necessary.


The book is a remarkable piece of work, and I think it is one of the best out there in the light to bring some formal theory in startup creation. I have really enjoyed the talk as well, so if you’ve got the possibility I’ll suggest to go. I also suggest to read this book to everybody which is thinking to launch a new product or launch new startup. It’s just very broad and full of good ideas.

P.S.: I’ve bought this book from Amazon in kindle format and I’ve just discovered I can’t lend it to friends. I understand that the terms are legally different and I didn’t buy a book but the ability to read it when Amazon is pleased, but this would not happen with a real book. I hope Amazon changes this crappy system as soon as possible and give us back the ability to do whatever we want with our books. Pretty please.


Six months with a kindle


Kindle 3g


I’ve bought a kindle (the e-ink family with 3g) 6 months ago, middle august pretty much.

From then on, I’ve got to say I’m loving it. In a not particular order:

  • Updated to the latest page: This means that you don’t have to find the latest page, or you have to fight with the bookmark. Pretty nice.
  • Autosync: I have an Android phone and I can read the same book (if bought on amazon) on the phone or on the kindle. The amazon app is smart enough to ask me if I want to sync to the latest page read, either on the kindle or on the phone. Nice one.
  • Wireless delivery and easy access to books: when a book is bought on amazon, it is automatically delivered to the kindle through whispernet. This potentially brings any book close to you. (and it makes very easy to spend tons of money on them.)
  • Battery and usability: The battery is able to deliver power up to one month. This is remarkable and really makes it easy to use it and forget is powered by electricity. The mini usb standard port makes super easy to recharge with any cable. Pretty nice.
  • More than one book: this is quite a given, however the possibilities to have tons of books in one device ready to go to the latest page in a pretty compact format is very nice ability. Especially if you are a parallel reader and like to read more than one book at the time.
What the kindle is not good:
  • Reading Papers and PDF: If you used to an android with a touch-screen using the kindle with the e-ink is a very unpleasant activity. I’ve given up.
  • Browsing online: The browser is pretty essential, so you can quickly look up some pages, however I will not suggest to use it as main browser.
Bottom line: If you want to have a nice device to read books made of text, where words count and images are not important or essential, I’ll say go for it and you will be happy, otherwise I guess a tablet will do better.
P.S.: Now the kindle store is open also on, so I can access tons of books in Italian too, which is very nice and convenient.