IPSC 2014: Imagination is more important than knowledge

From 12th to 17th May I took part to the International Public Speaking Competition (IPSC) 2014 in London, representing my country, Italy. The topic was Imagination is more important than knowledge, and the title of my speech, which follows, was The largest dancing floor. The video of the italian version is available on YouTube or at the bottom here.

THE LARGEST DANCING FLOOR (Italian candidate speech)

What I propose today is a journey. A journey with our imagination, through physics, to disclose a picture of the world far more appreciable than the one we usually have.

Have you ever thought about how fake the reality we see is? Looking around us, we see all kinds of different things. And yet, it looks to me that we give for granted the most basic assumption, which is that these things exist as we see them. I mean, we see a penguin and we think that yeah, that’s the classic example of the capital-P Penguin, of the “penguiness”. But where is this “penguiness” to be seen? Can we think of it? Can we say it is real?

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How Google Glass could be used for good while driving

The UK Department of Transports has banned Google Glass from driving since it could divert drivers’ attention from the road. I guess it is better to use your hands to dial a number or text someone instead of telling your glasses to do so without getting your hands off the wheel, but whatever. Anyway, they have not banned something that does not distract drivers, they have banned a product that could dramatically increase safety on the road. I can think of two ways it would, but I am sure there are plenty more. Here my two ideas for Google Glass while driving:
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Tutorial: Use PayPal Adaptive Payments API (with Embedded Lightbox)

There are two things I am currently working on:

  1. School
  2. Integrating my Post Pay Counter WordPress plugin with PayPal, so that site administrators can pay their writers directly from their blog pages, without having to head to the PayPal website

Apparently, it turns out that you do not get to choose how much time you want to dedicate to the first point. That, matched with the fact that PayPal APIs are horrible and that the documentation is often useless, is making the whole process much longer than I thought. Meanwhile, I am sharing what I have come up with until now (which works pretty well, actually), scheduling a second part of the tutorial for when the job will be completed.

PayPal Adaptive Payments: what it is for

Adaptive payments handles payments between a sender of a payment and one or more receivers of the payment. You are an application owner, such as a merchant that owns a website, the owner of a widget on a social networking site, the provider of a payment application on mobile phones, and so on. Your application is the caller of Adaptive Payments API operations.

Standing to what I have been able to discover about PayPal’s different payment mechanisms over summer, Adaptive Payments represents the most flexible way to transfer funds from one account to another. Also, it seems the only method you can effectively integrate PayPal in your application. Adaptive Payments is in fact for those applications in which your account, as application developer, is not the one you are drawing funds from. Shortly, you need to move money on behalf of someone, and your application is the intermediary.

In my specific case, I needed a way to let administrators put their credentials into my plugin and have PayPal let me get money from their accounts and transfer it to their writers’ ones. Adaptive Payments method was really suitable because it allows six transactions per each request, so that it is possible to send different amounts to several people with only one API request. As bottom line (which I did not need and did not care to dive into), it also allows Chained Payments, in which the primary receiver passes part of the payment to other receivers, splitting the original amount.

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Posts To-Do List: keep track of writing ideas

I worked for several blogs and websites. In most of them, we often felt the need to share hints and ideas about future posts, about what each of us stumbled upon while surfing. Unfortunately, there was not a great way to fulfill that need, and we often told each other via email, or emailed the admin who would in turn forward to all the writers. That is the reason why I wanted to build a WordPress tool that could simplify this sharing process.

That WordPress tool is a plugin and is called Posts To Do List. 

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When you start a new project, think big!

As you may know, I am the happy developer of a WordPress plugin called Post Pay Counter. I dare say that that has been my first serious coding project, well thought and well written. It taught me a lot, above all the concept that when you start a new project, you should think as if it was going to become a huge one. This is what I’d like to share with you today.

When I started developing the Post Pay Counter project it was two years ago. I took it up because a friend of mine needed it, and asked me if I could set up a plugin that could simplify writers payments. That was how the project started. Looking back at that time, I can clearly identify an error that came along with me and, partly, is still with me today: the idea that was not going to be an important plugin, that I would not have edited it much after, that I would not have added almost anything… that so it was, so it would have remained. What did this practically mean?

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Have I told you we should abolish Facebook?

Yesterday it was my birthday.

My family phoned me or just met me. Then there has been a handful of people who texted me on my mobile, mostly in the morning. I do not care how they remembered my birthday’s date, what I care about is that they took the time and the money (for those who paid) to text me. I am not ashamed to admit I use myself both Facebook and my mobile phone agenda to keep track of birthdays, apart from certain ones that are quite stuck in my head. But what I liked is that those people, the ones who texted me, tried to think of something nice to write and they actually came up with something sweet, something you would fancy reading after waking up. Those were the people closer to me. Some of them even told me that it was Facebook that remembered them it was my birthday, but they actually sent me an SMS and did not use Facebook to write me.

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