You cannot miss something that you never had

Last December my family and I spent a week in Cuba, in the Havana area. Seven days are clearly not enough to understand a country, especially one like Cuba that has a very complicated modern history that is still unfolding. However, because of the peculiarity of the political system, one of the few communist states remained somewhat intact after the fall of Berlin’s wall, I thought I would write down a few of my first impressions and some interesting tidbits I noticed during my stay on the island. It is also important to remember that I stayed in the richest and most connected part of Cuba (near the capital) and I personally can’t comment on more remote areas, even though I was told that there are big differences.

Moments before landing in Havana

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Solar System sticker pack for iMessage

When back in June Apple announced sticker packs for iMessage at the WWDC as part of iOS 10, I was immediately fascinated by the idea of trying to release one.

SolarSystem_stickerpack
The Solar System sticker pack for iMessage in its entirety

I really wanted to create my first sticker pack themed around the thing I’m most passionate about: astronomy. I’m currently studying astronomy and wanted to share my passion with fellow iMessage users! It’s a great way to interact with friends and it also has educational potential.

The pack contains the main bodies of the solar system: the Sun, the Moon, and all the planets (sorry Pluto!).

The sticker pack can be downloaded on the App Store from here.
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The Turkish military coup has failed: what should the West do now?

My simple, short answer: I don’t know.

However, I constantly see online many people—from friends on Facebook to strangers on Twitter, all with the best intentions—asking the West (more precisely, the EU and the US) to do more to ensure that a democratic process is followed in Turkey.

But what should the West do? That they fail to say.
All the major European leaders as well as Obama’s administration have already, in multiple occasions, and immediately in the few days following the coup, called for the Turkish government to not stray from constitutional law. The EU has even threatened Erdoğan to cancel all the Union entry negotiations developed so far if the Turkish government won’t respect the democratic principles.

Back to the original question, what should the West do? I’m sure more can be done, even starting from simple economic sanctions, but many people fail to realise the difficulty of the situation and why each decision towards Turkey needs to be pondered carefully. Continue reading “The Turkish military coup has failed: what should the West do now?”

A week in the Bay Area: some sparse thoughts

Just over a month ago I spent a week in the Bay Area. For the first five days I resided in Palo Alto (I attended an astronomy conference at Stanford) and then I spent the weekend in San Francisco. It wasn’t obviously enough time to get a real idea of the place and to understand how it would be to live there (also, this piece won’t take into consideration the big variations that must exist from place to place in the Bay). However, I wanted to write down some initial personal contrasting impressions and sentiments regarding the region in the world that most contributes to bring forward the tech sector . My thoughts below will be mostly sparse and limited (thus mainly a bullet point list), and possibly incorrect, but definitely honest and genuine—I recorded them in my Notes app as they came to mind (some editing and details were applied at a later stage; some points were also discussed with a couple of other British researchers who stayed with me during my time in the Bay). I will try to read more about the area in the future to correct the likely misconceptions, but I thought it was interesting to put down in writing the initial impressions that a European visitor may get.
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Clearly Google is thriving while Apple is doomed to fail

Or maybe we just don’t know yet.

In the last few months and weeks, but especially after the Google I/O developer conference held last Wednesday, the tech community on Twitter has gone crazy (as it often does). In particular, I was surprised to read a lot of praise directed at Google and their announcements. However, what was surprising was that this praise seemed to originate more as an implied critic of Apple as a company and it permeated a general sense of doom for the Cupertino company. This sentiment has accompanied Apple for a long time, especially within Wall Street, but it now reached a new extreme level probably because we are approaching the beginning of a new era in which we are not sure anymore whether having the best smartphone (i.e. the iPhone) is enough to be the best in the field. Even though these doubts are in part justified, I think fears have been amplified to unreasonable levels: Apple is not failing anytime soon even if some of their services are not as great as those made by Google, the same way that Google is not failing as a company despite Android and their hardware lacking compared to Apple’s counterparts. And for the same reasons we are not replacing Apple as the main company from which we buy most of our favourite devices anytime soon.  Continue reading “Clearly Google is thriving while Apple is doomed to fail”