Quest for Land, by John Vink

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’ve been working with Magnum photographer John Vink on his Quest for Land iPad app — John on photos, me as the dev guy, and journalists Robert Carmichael as the wordsmith. The app was released about 10 days or so ago, and as an iPad app, it’s gotten pretty good reviews from those who took part in our informal beta testing.

John has more info on his site, including screen shots and a short movie. And, of course, it’s available on the iTunes store: Quest for Land.

Quest for Land chronicles more than a decade of land issues in Cambodia. There’s a lot on forced evictions and their aftermath, as well as some solid historical and cultural background on land issues in Cambodia. In total, Quest for Land contains about 720 photographs and 20,000 words on the subject. The app costs US$9 — basically that’s a penny per photograph and the words are free — a shocking value proposition. Buy a copy if you can. It’s well worth it.

Fighting spam

Everyone hates spam. So why are more and more local companies adopting this awful marketing technique? Ignorance, I suppose. But there are ways to fight back.

During a recent project, I stumbled across a dead-handy WordPress plugin that does exactly what its name suggests — obfuscates your email address.

Type your email address —  [email protected], for example — into any WordPress page, and the plugin will render the html as [email protected].

Spam-bots get nothing.

For more on the subject, check out A List Apart’s essay on Graceful Obfuscation.

Hackerspace Phnom Penh

Idle computer hands now have a place to play.

Hackerspace Phnom Penh will officially open in January 2011, giving the Phnom Penh IT community a common space to converge.

Hackerspace philosophy promotes the idea of knowledge sharing in an open, decentralized society. Dozens of Hackerspace groups exists worldwide. Collectively, the goal of the spaces is to provide “a location where people with common interests, usually in computers, technology, or digital or electronic art can meet, socialise and/or collaborate,” according to the Hackerspace entry on Wikipedia.

Hackerspace groups support themselves by collecting membership dues. Students in Phnom Penh, for example, pay just $10 per month to receive 24-hour access to the Hackerspace facilities, including high-speed Internet, community workspaces and audio-visual equipment.

“[W]e decided the best way to raise the capital is internally from future members and supporters of Hackerspace Phnom Penh, rather from private companies or organisations,” the founders wrote on the group’s Wiki. “This will ensure the independence of the Hackerspace which everyone at the first meeting thought was very important.”

Visit HackerspacePP.

Preah Vihear temple to reopen

The capo says Preah Vihear will reopen after New Year.

The Preah Vihear ruins on the Thai-Cambodian border will be opened after the New Year and Thailand should also open its side of the border so people can visit the ancient temple, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen told visiting Thai army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha in Phom Penh on Tuesday.

… “Since we are neighbours and cannot move away from each other, we should cooperate and stay together in peace.

“Thailand and Cambodia are like a tongue and teeth which must be in contact.  It is not right that the teeth must be removed if the tongue is bitten,” the Cambodian prime minister said to Gen Prayuth.

The man certainly has a way with words.

Water Festival Cambodia, 2010

Day Two of The Water Festival, aka Bon Om Tuk, as seen from The FCC Cambodia. City officials expected about 4 million people, or more than a quarter of the Kingdom’s population, to arrive from the provinces. Down on the riverfront on Sunday afternoon, it didn’t feel like nearly that many. In fact, the crowds seemed thin. But maybe the midday heat kept wiser people indoors.