Tag: Barcelona

Mobile is everything, everywhere

Friday, 19 February, 2016 1 Comment

On Monday, the annual Mobile World Congress begins in Barcelona and the slogan this year is “Mobile Is Everything.” Those who follow the industry, will be aware that the Barcelona motto echoes the title of a presentation made by Benedict Evans in October 2014: “Mobile is Eating the World.” Both claims sound somewhat bombastic, but that’s only because many people are unaware of how powerful smartphones have become.

Most mobile phones today are equipped with an array of sensors and these enable completely new kinds of connected experiences. This can be seen in the title of a Barcelona event titled Digital Farming and Connected Car. Visitors to the “Digital Farming” presentation will see how “how field sensors transfer data directly to the farmer — with important information on water needs, fertilizer supplies and the right time of harvest.” The informed farmers will then drive (laugh?) all the way to the bank in their SEAT Connect cars, which will “initiate parking and fueling transactions,” while “Payment will be conveniently done in-car through Samsung Pay.”

“Where there’s muck, there’s money” was the old saying about farming. The updated version goes, “Where there’s data, there’s money.”

Looking at the bigger picture in which connectivity is redefining farming and transport, we find ourselves in a world where our bodies, homes and factories are becoming part of an invisible network of sensors called the Internet of Things (IoT). Is mobile a subset of this Fourth Industrial Revolution or is it the catalyst? That’s the debate that will rage this year. In Barcelona, it seems that they’ve made up their minds: Mobile is everything.

Mobile World Congress


Visca el Barça vs. mia san mia on the second screen

Tuesday, 12 May, 2015 0 Comments

A number of initiatives have been started in recent years to encourage more women to learn about computing, such as Ada Developers Academy, and Google, for its part, says it has given more than $40 million to organizations working to bring computer science education to girls. The reality, though, is that tech is still very much a man’s, man’s world and this impression was reinforced last week at the EIT Innovation Forum in Budapest, where Emanuela Zaccone was the only female nominee for the 2015 Awards.

Zaccone is the co-founder of TOK.tv, a platform that lets users chat to their friends while watching a game, such as tomorrow night’s Champions League semi-final between Juventus and Real Madrid. As it happens, the two teams are TOK.tv partners and Zaccone pitches her second screen play as a win-win for both sides as their fans, scattered around the world, can sit on the same virtual couch during a match and the clubs can monetize this engagement. And what about tonight’s Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich game, which pits the Catalan Visca el Barça against the Bavarian mia san mia cultures? Zaccone smiles. “We’re talking,” she says. The two teams are global players in every sense of the term and their joint presence on the TOK.tv platform would add considerably to its reach.

Back in 2007, when Emanuela Zaccone was working on her PhD thesis at the University of Nottingham, she had a hunch that a combination of social media streams and audio-visual content would lead to to new forms of audience participation in entertainment. She was right. From her vantage point in Rome today and in her role as Social Media Strategist at TOK.tv, she’s proving that a woman can transform a man’s game.

Emanuela Zaccone


Germanwings flight 4U9525

Tuesday, 24 March, 2015 0 Comments

Over the years, the Rainy Day team has flown dozens of times to and from Barcelona, over the French Alps. Our thoughts today are with the families and friends of the passengers and crew of Germanwings Flight 4U9525 who died there this morning.

Germanwings

Courage is the price that life extracts for granting peace.
The soul that knows it not, knows no release from little things.
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,
Nor mountain heights, where bitter joy can hear
The sound of wings.

Amelia Earhart (1897 – 1937)


Body of glass

Monday, 2 March, 2015 0 Comments

“Seemed like the real thing, only to find mucho mistrust, love’s gone behind.” That’s what Blondie sang in Heart of Glass back in 1978. At the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona last night, glass was front and behind when Samsung unveiled its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge phones. According to Gigaom, “Samsung has done away from the plastic cases that always characterized its phones and adopted Gorilla Glass front and back panels, which are then encased with a metal band.”

This is very good news for Corning, and it reminds us of the glass stats cited by Benedict Evans in his “Mobile is Eating the World” presentation last year.

Glass

Note: “Samsung has be known to copy Apple’s design before, which led to record sales and record-breaking lawsuits. It’s hard to say if the Galaxy S6 will bring about any lawsuits, but the similarities between it and the iPhone 6 are undeniable.” Dan Seifert, reporting for The Verge from Barcelona.


The drums of Catalonia

Sunday, 9 November, 2014 1 Comment

The Catalans are having a moment today. They’re holding a referendum of sorts on the notion of independence from Spain. But because central government in Madrid forbids the use of the “referendum” word in this case, Barcelona is forced to speak of “a non-binding, participatory process” instead. When Scotland held an independence referendum in September, EU leaders hailed it as an exercise in popular democracy, but they’re hostile to the right of Catalonia to make a similar decision. Why? “Apparently they have forgotten that the right of self-determination of nations is a long-standing, fundamental and universal principle of modern democracy.” So says Latvian writer Otto Ozols in an article for Delfi. Meanwhile, Sydney has voted on “el 9N.”

Catalonian drummers


Transfer window: Boston Globe signs John L Allen

Friday, 10 January, 2014 0 Comments

Background: The transfer window is a period during the year in which a football club can purchase players from other teams to strengthen their lineup. With the January window is now open, all kinds of fascinating questions have been raised: Will struggling Manchester United sign the workhorse Diego Costa or the workshy Fabio Coentrão? Can Arsène Wenger find suitable subs for the injury-plagued Arsenal bench? Is the flamboyant Chelsea star David Luiz heading to Barcelona? Was it arrogance or indigence that led Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti to say that he won’t be signing any new players?

The transfer window is not confined to soccer, however. There’s a permanent media version and the Boston Globe made news this week when it signed the superb John L Allen from the National Catholic Reporter. “Allen, widely hailed as the best-sourced and most knowledgeable English-speaking reporter on the Vatican, will help lead coverage of Catholicism and the Vatican as an associate editor of The Globe,” declared the press release. And then comes the really interesting bit: “He will also help us explore the very real possibility of launching a free-standing publication devoted to Catholicism, drawing in other correspondents and leading voices from near and far,” said Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory.

The Globe would be placing a big bet on Pope Francis if this were to happen, but it might pay off nicely. The whirlwind pontiff has set the media industry alight and more headlines are sure to come as he attempts to fill the “God-shaped void”, as Blaise Pascal put it some 300 years ago. While core doctrine is not going to change, Catholic theology is set to become more dynamic and millions of people will want to read all about it. Secular fads like the Occupy craze and the global warming cult offer little of substance to those in need of spiritual comfort so it falls to Francis to curate his global, 2,000-year-old movement in a way that makes it relevant to both sides of the digital divide. There’s no better person to interpret the coming Church changes than John L Allen. Game on!

Francis


Barcelona: The city that Cerdà helped create

Tuesday, 15 October, 2013 0 Comments

When one thinks of Barcelona and urban design, the name that immediately comes to mind is that of Antoni Gaudí, but there’s a case to made that Ildefons Cerdà was the better builder. A civil engineer by training, Cerdà was also an urban planner, an architect and a health specialist: an ideal city-creator, in other words. The avenues and boulevards of Cerdà’s l’Eixample (Expansion) plan made life both pleasant and healthy for the barceloní/barcelonina used to five centuries of “rambling” on La Rambla, one of the world’s greatest people streets.

Cerdà built upon tradition and his limit of seven to nine stories for buildings throughout the plan made the entire urban “room” feel human in scale. Barcelona has broken this rule in recent decades, but when it has, high-rise buildings such as Jean Nouvel’s impressive Torre Agbar have added to the character of the city. Cerdà would be pleased with this timelapse clip by Alexandr Kravtsov.


And then there were two

Thursday, 2 May, 2013 0 Comments

Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern München will contest the Champions League final on 25 May in Wembley Stadium in London. While Dortmund did just enough to edge past Real Madrid, it is the thrashing of Barcelona by Bayern that has sent the football world searching for words to explain, interpret and understand what we have seen.

“We’re witnessing the beginning of the end of an era for Barca, and the end of the beginning of an era for Bayern,” said Gary Lineker on the BBC last night. And then there were the tweets:

So does this mean that the Bundesliga is the model for European clubs? Not quite, argues economist David McWilliams: “Without free-spending, debt-financed, brash Spanish giants like Real Madrid and Barcelona, Bayern would have nobody to play with. There would be no Champions League. Put simply, without the huge spending of the likes of Real, the Germans would have no competition to play in or against.”


Spain becomes Argentina

Thursday, 25 April, 2013 0 Comments

First, Bayern Munich hammered Barcelona and then Borussia Dortmund routed Real Madrid. Now, comes news that Spain’s unemployment rate soared to a new record of 27.2 percent of the workforce in the first quarter of 2013. The jobless figure is the highest since at least 1976, the year after Francisco Franco’s death began Spain’s transition to democracy and, to add further woe, data released on Tuesday by the Bank of Spain showed the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy had shrunk by two percent in the first three months of 2013, compared with the year-earlier period.

What makes the economic crisis so shocking is that Spain was once Europe’s most vibrant and exciting country. Prosperity soared for two decades and Viva España became the slogan for a global leader in football, fashion, food and cinema. But where once there was optimism, there’s only rage now. It’s directed against the banks, the politicians, the royal family and, increasingly, the European Union. Initially, the EU seemed to offer a way out of an Iberian jungle of ignorance, poverty, isolation and authoritarianism. Indeed, in a moment of euphoria, the writer, José Ortega y Gasset, put it thus: “Spain is the problem and Europe is the solution.” But that was then.

The “European dream” that Spain bought into seemed to promise a middle-class lifestyle for all, from Andalusia to Zaragoza. But with no hope of jobs for the young, the welfare state under threat and the fabric of society rent, the worry now is that Spain will become more like Argentina than Munich or Dortmund. Those football results are portents.


Messi, Messi

Tuesday, 23 April, 2013 1 Comment

“The overwhelming sensation when you watch Messi is still this: He’s a child. The nerd with the flowerpot hairdo looks like a kid who has won a competition to spend a day with Barcelona. His physique seems to mock all the man monsters and fitness rooms and ‘food supplements’ of modern sport. When Messi receives […]

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The Special Ones: José Mourinho and Abel Rodríguez

Friday, 12 April, 2013 0 Comments

And then there were four: In today’s Champions League semi-final draw we have Barcelona, Bayern München, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. Will it be Bundesliga vs. Bundesliga and Primera División vs. Primera División with the best of both meeting in Wembley Stadium on 25 May? Exciting.

While we’re counting down to the draw, let’s read about Abel Rodríguez from Mexico, who waxes floors for a living in Los Angeles and takes two weeks holiday every year to work for free for Real Madrid when the club does its summer training in Los Angeles. He had always dreamed of seeing Real playing their great rivals Barca in Madrid in El Clásico, as fans call the contest, so his family urged him to go. And he went. Without a match ticket or a hotel reservation. He arrived in the Spanish capital and sat outside the club’s training grounds for hours until manager José Mourinho spotted him as he was leaving. “Stop! It’s the guy from Los Angeles.” And that’s how the magical journey of Abel Rodríguez began. It’s documented beautifully by Grant Wahl in Sports Illustrated. Snippet:

“Mourinho called an assistant and arranged for Rodríguez to have his own room at the fancy hotel where Real Madrid was staying before the Barcelona game. Mourinho instructed him to get some rest at the hotel and meet him at the training site the next morning. That evening, the night before El Clásico, the two men caught up for 90 minutes together before sharing dinner with the Real Madrid coaching staff.”

It’s only a game, some say.

UPDATE: Bayern München vs. Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid. The semi-final first legs will be on 23 and 24 April and the return legs on 30 April and 1 May.