Thursday, November 15

Rails are the new Gems!

It's been a while for me to have a long offshore trip, having had only short ones to Singapore, Padang and Bangkok during the past couple years. But last night, a full 14 hours starting at 6am (MYT) in Balik Pulau (Penang, Malaysia) took me to Shibuya-ku ("fashion shopping town" of Tokyo, Japan) for Web 2.0 conference and expo -- as mentioned in my previous post: the first big arrival in Asia by the "Web 2.0-man " himself, Tim O'Reilly. (Psst. the MDEC guys with me are pushing to bring these guys to Malaysia next, soon!)

This morning, we had three sessions so far starting with Tim interviewing Joi, and later IBM and Sun showcasing their commitments for the Web 2.0 community of civilians (business people) and developers (now techies sound like military people!)

(to be continued after going to MIDA and shopping ;0)

[CONTINUED: 19nov07]:

When the first morning of Web 2.0 at the Cerulean Tower Hotel Banquet Hall concluded, we International delegates get shun off the entire 2nd half-day of the conference due to the fact that the were no interpretation made available for both verbal and textual versions of the remaining sessions of the day after the first three keynotes. And we paid full price about RM3,000 per person! (not including travel and lodging expenses for another ~RM4500 per person). [Hmm, like my friend Rico put it in our group Web20Japan blog, "Note to self: Learn Japanese!"]

And to make things worse, all three morning keynotes were so boring that the speakers including O'Reilly could not get any excitement from the floors in the form of feedbacks or questions. Or maybe I was right about the "ninja codes" (see previous post) -- Asians especially Japanese people seem very secretive about their stuff, telling only on need-to-know basis, and only when they can show the real things (Unlike Westerners that market like crazy and raise more money than they could use -- like the Twitter guys (whom its co-founder I met when he was catching up with Joi Ito later the first night) before they even come up with any real products). Or maybe these smarties in suits were just shy for not being able to communicate well in English (I bet they were much more active in Japanese-only sessions just like the courteous hotel and event organizing workers who greet us all the time with long phrases -- which I understood nothing...)

And I wasn't alone who felt this -- later that night after we were done with shopping (and window-jakuning) at the Akihabara electric town, all my colleagues expressed their even worse opinions of the first day of Web 2.0 Japan.

Though, I still sensed some treasures from the first day, and by knowing ahead on what the second day would bring us, particularly from Opera and Twitter, I was the most upbeat for the next day's content, brushing aside possibly another off-side trips like the one we had to MIDA Japan on the first afternoon... After all, I felt the trip to Tokyo itself without any of the Web 2.0 sessions was already a huge eyes-opening experience, and let me me tell you my version/story on trains and rails:

Having had great experience with American highways for ten years, I returned to Malaysia in 2002, and I must say how impressed I was immediately with Kuala Lumpur's latest and modern transportation infrastructure in the forms of its Light-Rail-Transit (LRT) trains, KTM commuter train and KLIA-KL Sentral ERL which I thought were more or less comparable to those in Detroit, Chicago and New York (I didn't had much experience with those though since it was much easier to cruise around with US$20/day rented pickup trucks bracing long and straight toll-less highways). And KL Sentral's integrated transit for four train lines look efficient enough. Or so I thought...

Boy, how wrong I was: Tokyo on the other hand seem ten years ahead, in terms of its transportation efficiencies to accommodate its ~13-million highly active inhabitants (including gentlemen in their 50s and 60s who still lurk at video game hangouts!!): Tokyo metropolitan (one of the 47 prefectures in Japan -- comparable to a state/federal territory in Malaysia, e.g. Kuala Lumpur "metro") has at least 12 subway lines (I counted 17 lines on its metro guide map though) connecting most if not all of its 23 wards and 26 cities, and there seem to be at least 20 KL Sentrals of transits (with three or more connecting lines) in Tokyo prefecture alone -- How I wish I had more time to try many more trains than the two JR lines (Yamanote and Hibiya) we took for getting to Shinjuku (for dining), Kamiyacho (for business) and Akihabara (for electronics) during the two very expensive day-stay in Tokyo.

On the Web 2.0 side, Rails seem to be able to gain dominance in development world (just like how trains beat buses and taxis in Tokyo as the preferred mean of transportation) now that Robert Brewin has hinted in his first-day keynote on how Sun Microsystems itself has more confidence in Ruby on Rails (nicked "Rails" instead of "Ruby") than their own "beans"! -- So confident that Sun now supports Rails with grants to developers, hardware to hosts and support in its wide range of development tools.

As a web host, I've constantly heard of Rails, and do offer it in my hosting packages, but it's time to check out Rails from now on for my on-going Web 2.0 projects. Back to business.... (later)

Nasir was lost in Haraju-ku but is now on clear path in Penang (after a 4-hour trip with Vios from KLIA due to missing his AirAsia afternoon flight -- COST: KLIA->LCCT by Avis driver: RM20, wasted AirAsia ticket: RM100, car - RM277, PETROL: RM69, TOLL: RM 53 = close to RM500 from KL to Penang => ARGH, TRAVELLING IN MALAYSIA IS KILLING US MICROPRENEURS!! ) . Wait, there's a Mastercard version: Being able to meet friends at Shah Alam on the way back, and later cruise at 170km/h trailing a speedy Benz (I'm not sure whether it does bear a special "Datuk" tag or not): PRICELESS!

p/s: What else would I get from Akihabara for my little niece back in Sepang: a full set of bullet train (with three cars that moves really fast using just a single AA battery) complete with its rails and an inhabited station (with a couple of little people):

(this blues and a Nemo waterproof swatch were enough to make her all friendly with me again -- she normally runs away from males including from my two elder brothers)

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