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OK Google, Talk To Northstar Pow Day!

Northstar pow day action on google

Northstar Pow Day – Action on Google

Last week, we had a big storm at Tahoe.

I thought it might be great if with one quick question (while you washing our face in the morning) you can learn if it’s a powder day.
After all, when there is a pow day, you should close the shop and run for the slopes, no?

The result is here: pow-day-northstar.glitch.me and you can find the code at GitHub.

If you are on a mobile device, click here to check it on the assistant, or just say “Hey Google, talk to Northstar pow day”.

Have fun!

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life

Two Books On World War II

2 books

I don’t know why, but in the past month I read (again) two books that tell personal stories during World War II / holocaust.

I didn’t plan it. But like most things in life, while we are making plans, things happen.

In retrospective, it was a powerful, sad and interesting time. You can hear a lot of stories about WW2 and the holocaust but there are some that hit you right in your heart.

As the say, “Long story short”, here are the two books I recommend.

The Nightingale

Kristin Hannah is so talented. She does a great job in capturing an intimate part of history from a unique perspective: the women’s war. It is a combination of two stories or two sisters. They are separated on many levels: years, experience, ideals and mostly character. Each one is paving her own path toward survival in German-occupied France. It’s a beautiful, sad story that shows the real strong gender – female.

 

Beneath a Scarlet Sky

It’s a real personal story of Pino Lella, a young Italian teenager who wants to ski and have fun. Up to here it’s just like any teenager who lives near the amazing mountains in north of Italy. But, there is a war and he started it by joining the underground where he helped Jews escape over the Alps to Switzerland. From one step to another he become the personal driver of Hans Layers who reported to Hitler. The story tells how is manage to spy for the allies and his relationships with Hans, Anna (his love) and his family. During the book, you keep thinking it can’t be a real story. But, you keep realizing, it is all happen in Europe only 60 years ago.

 

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An Amazing Apps For The Google Assistant – Chatbot Summit 2018

chat Bot Summit

Here are the slides from my talk today at the Chat Bot Summit.

It was a great experience to talk about the Google Assistant platform and to run two workshops with live coding.

If you could not make it and you wish to test this platform, you can go over the slides (and other tutorials or videos) and check on of the code labs that we have for the Assistant on your own.

There are many good apps that you can check in order to get ideas and inspiration. Here are some apps for the Assistant that I’ve created for the code labs and demos.

Good luck!

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life

How Nike Became Nike

I just finished this book and really enjoyed it.

Any entrepreneur and/or a runner should read it. Such an amazing story of a startup (they didn’t have this term back in 1962) that fight against the giants (e.g. Adidas, US customs, Tiger etc’) and succeed to win. Big time.

It’s told by Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight and he does a great job to describe the inside story of the company. From the early days as a one man show startup and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic and profitable brands.

In 1962, fresh out of Stanford business school, Phil Knight traveled the world. When he visited Japan he was able to get a deal with Tiger (well known brand at the time) and with fifty dollars from his father he created a company “Blue Ribbon Sports“. They had many issues and problems (like any startup) but in the end, Nike’s annual sales last year top $30 billion. The story between these two extremes is fascinating.

It’s a candid and humble memoir. Knight details the relationships he had with the first employees and the (many) risks and daunting setbacks that stood between him and his dream. He is a real problem solver and keep learning on the go but the most impressive quality I learn about him is the relationships he was able to make (with very few words) with athletes, employees and friends.

Enjoy it!
…And go for a run.

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life

Great Books To Start The Year

Few of the best books I’ve read in the past and you might enjoy. There are in no special order, but if you love good stories start with the first and the last.

 

One of the best books I read in a long time. It’s an interesting story about the humankind in the last ~70,000 years and Harari does it so well, you won’t feel it’s a history book.

I like the 2nd book (Homo Deus) as well and found more things in it that I would like to discuss about with the author. I just need to find the right time and place. Continue reading

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Generate TTS Using Your Terminal

It’s not a new hack but it will work well if you have short texts (1-3 sentences) that you wish to convert to speech.

After all, when returning a response to the Google Assistant, you can use a subset of the Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML).

Why?

Because you can make your agent’s responses seem more life-like experience.

How?

Open your terminal and try something like this:

curl "http://www.google.com/speech-api/v1/synthesize?lang=en-us&text=actions+on+google+rock" -o aog-rock-hack.mp3

That’s it.

If you want to use SSML and get fancy, it’s also support it in the request: Continue reading

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Hey Google, Talk to Coffee Trivia Game

During the holidays, I had a bit of time to do some fun stuff with Actions on Google.

It started with an idea that a runner friend brought up during a long run and the results is “OK Google, Talk to Western State Race“. If you are an ultra trail runner, you are smiling now, right?

Later, it was around another passion – good coffee. I used the templates for Google Assistant to create a fun trivia game. It’s super easy, as you only need to copy a google sheet and update it with your questions and answers.

You can check the result by clicking here (on mobile) or just say something like “OK Google, Talk to Coffee Trivia Game”. Continue reading

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