11 April 2014

Restaurant menus on the web

If any one out there with a restaurant is listening...

Making me click to view different categories annoys me unless you have different menus at different times. If you have completely different menus for breakfast and lunch/dinner, then splitting them that way on the web is useful. Making me click to view appetizers and then go back and click again to view one subset of entrées and then go back and click again to view a second subset of entrées...this isn’t useful. I want to be able to see all your dishes by merely scrolling instead of clicking.

(You may have read something against scrolling web pages. That was an over-reaction. Scrolling is fine when appropriate. Not scrolling when scrolling is appropriate is inappropriate.)

When should I have to click to get more information? To get the kind of specifics that I can’t get from a paper menu. e.g. a complete list of ingredients and nutritional information. The real power of the web is its ability for you to deliver this kind of in-depth information to your customers. You really should take advantage of it.

And pictures. You ought to have a picture of every dish. Ideally with thumbnails on the main menu page and a full-size image when I click for more information about a particular dish.

10 April 2014

The simple argument against DRM

I don’t know that I’ve ever put it this way before, but it seemed so simple when I did.

Except perhaps in some very specific circumstances, I have not been convinced that anti-piracy measures ever increase sales, much less pay for themselves.

Piracy doesn’t matter; sales do. Any anti-piracy measure has to prove that it is going to generate additional sales to more than make up for its costs.

09 April 2014


This is Android TV

Android TV may sound like a semantic difference — after all, Google TV was based on Android — but it’s something very different. Android TV is no longer a crazy attempt to turn your TV into a bigger, more powerful smartphone. "Android TV is an entertainment interface, not a computing platform," writes Google. "It’s all about finding and enjoying content with the least amount of friction." It will be "cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast."

The thing about convergence was that people wanted the technologies in the background to converge, but they never wanted the experiences to converge. Watching video is ideally done on a TV; web surfing is ideally done on a tablet, and writing a novel is ideally done on a PC. That’s not to say that we shouldn't be able to do all three tasks on all three platforms, but we don’t want, e.g., the full PC experience on our TVs.

01 April 2014

Flappy bird

Yesterday’s post about Threes and 2048 reminded me of some things I wanted to say about Flappy Bird. Maybe Flappy Bird is a horrible game that doesn’t deserve the popularity it garnered, but I do think there are a lot of lessons game developers could take from it.

A couple I can think of: It starts up fast. You get to playing fast. There is as little as possible between launching the game and playing the game. There is no point at which the gameplay that the player has been enjoying changes to gameplay they may not enjoy.

There is also an idea out there that players today will not accept a difficult game. Flappy Bird soundly refutes that. While I greatly enjoy some games that are basically “no lose”, it is satisfying to have games that are significant challenges too.

30 March 2014

Threes and 2048

One of the creators of Threes: The Rip-offs & Making Our Original Game

What the creators of Threes don’t realize is that—just as subtle differences between Threes and 2048 makes Threes a better game—some of the subtle difference also make 2048 a better game.

The biggest is perhaps start-up time. In a quick one-sample trial, Threes took 12 seconds from launch to play; 2048, 2. For a mobile game, that can be the difference from getting in ten seconds of play versus not playing at all.

As much as I appreciate the personality of Threes (and I appreciated the catchy soundtrack enough to buy it from iTunes), I also appreciate the austerity of 2048.

Threes is deeper, and it shows.

I can’t say it comes easy to me, but I think we’d be better off if we could get past this ownership of ideas concept.

If so, then people would also be more likely to openly credit their inspirations.

25 March 2014

Why can’t Johnny reverse a linked list?

Colleges: You are graduating computer science/software engineering students who don’t understand pointers, floating-point, or what a closure is. (And I don’t mean that they don’t understand the terms; they don’t understand the concepts.)

It is so frustrating when I don’t get to talk to an interview candidate about higher level concerns because they don’t know the fundamentals. (It is even more frustrating when I do get a chance to talk about higher level concepts only to find they don’t have a grasp of those either.)

Even if you don’t believe that pointers and floating-point are as fundamental to the working software engineer as reading is to a secondary school student, at least tell them not to put C on their resume if they don’t understand these concepts. And tell them not to list Javascript if they don’t understand floating-point or closures.

I’m not so idealistic to think that a degree can ever be a guarantee of anything, but the current situation is that the degrees you are handing out are worthless.

Students: I don’t think the moral of the story is to not go to college. I may not have graduated, but college did expose me to things I might not have been exposed to otherwise. Understand that college will not prepare you for your career. College is an opportunity for you to prepare yourself for your career. You will get out of it what you put in.

16 February 2014

Rocksmith 2014

Rocksmith (2014...I never tried the original). Using a real guitar (or bass) means that it becomes less about playing a game and more about actually playing guitar (or bass). Of all the computerized guitar teachers or “Guitar Hero with a real guitar” things I’ve tried, this one seems to work the best. It is work to learn the songs, but it doesn’t feel like you’re fighting against the software to do so. And like a good teacher, instead of asking you what difficulty you want, as soon as you’re starting to feel comfortable, it pushes you just a little more.

I haven’t taken lessons in some twenty-odd years, but this software makes me feel like I am. In the best way.