Mathematical puzzler : A Casual Game

Have u played Tetris?
Can say with more than 90% certainty*,that you have.

Yes it is that same game where blocks drop to make lines and there are bonus points for number of lines that one can make in one go.

To me personally puzzle games, having a hidden mathematical structure, are a constant fascination. And though Tetris is one such game, also being one of most popular games of all time, and there have been others(various versions of sudoko), off and on, wonder why they have not been more? And if there have been, how come not popular that don't readily come to mind?

Too difficult to make, too small a demographic which is interested, no fun, all of this and more?

Well don't know the right answer but am hopeful that a lot of that is going to change. Already there is a growing demographic, different from hard core gamers, playing what are called casual games, a category to which Tetris can also said to belong. And within this, think there is a need, and a market niche, for people wanting to excercise their brains, if u will, than just needing to improve upon hand eye coordination.

Guess just like Nintendo changed and expanded the game playing demographic, there is need for some more individual/companies that can come out with such engaging stuff.

Personally, have designed a couple, working to bring them to iPhone and or XBOX 360 and or online. From initial feedback to a closed group of users, things look good.
Let's see if finds a large enough audience, and also if there are other developers creating for this 'puzzle' genre. In case, dear reader you know of any, do leave a comment.

*Given the demographic that would come to read this blog; still in case you haven't, go here to know more and download a sample maybe.

Game changing games

What's in a game, you might ask.
A lot actually; or that is what i think, for sure.

This is an emerging media, elements of which are only now maturing and being refined.
Guess can go on and say that it is an art form, much like film making is; well maybe this would sound far fetched, for one, practice of computer game designing is young, much younger than film making, and two there is very little evidence to buttress its claim to being an art form.

But anyways, that's that; lets take a more concrete direction, and here would just like to point out one example where MIT is exploring possibilities of using game technology to better conceptual understanding of students in varied streams. Yup, MIT, and its been in the works for a few years now, with corporate sponsors like Microsoft thrown in. Go here for details.

Now another question, given that above is possible, why is it that we still see games that are primarily themed around violence and gore? Maybe the answer here is habit, for paying audience of games has been males of a certain age group, and this is what they have showed an inking for. But now, the onus is on developers and designers, to bring to market not what people want but what they need.

.Net Architecture2.0

All of the varied applications possible on MS Technology platform classified as app types, hence Mobile application is one type and Web Applications another.

And a distinction is made, that of architectural style, whereby denoting how the important parts of a particular application are put together and interact.

Between the two points above, guess guidance for most applications that one is making or would make get covered.

Now what makes the guide really interesting is the archetypes section, where for an application type, a 'primary' form is illustrated. That is, for an application of a particular application type to be architecturally robust, the given archetype serves to function as an 'ideal'. Thus, looking at this archetype, one can make out significant parts and their relationships.

Notice here separate archetypes for Web Application and RIA, where there are variations resulting from the two being different application types, brought about by number and nature of layers, to what goes in each layer, brought about because of differences in architectural style optimum for each.

Add a section giving an overview of .NET technology, and you have a one solid resource when it comes to architecting and designing applications on .NET X.X platform. Further, given accessible style of writing, using this document to get english speaking stakeholders to see an architect's standpoint is going to be so much easier. Kudos to that; great to see that there is some one up Redmond's Mount Olympus, bringing Prometheus like, light and knowledge of app architecture to mere us mere mortals.

New New Architecture Guide : MS Patterns and Practices

So finally MS has updated its official guide on application architecture, and it covers most forms of applications in use today, from RIA's to staid old client/server.

Read my post here for what i think of this valuable document originating from hallowed halls of patterns and practices.

About time, for ever since flurry of technical activity around ASP.NET AJAX and then Silverlight, and UX idioms coming from Web2.0 paradigm, things in the previous guide were a little out of whack.

That is MS own technology set allowed for, and infact was optimised for an architecture totally at variance with what was in the previous guide.

Don't know if you experienced it in any projects/products that might have been part of, but personally for me not having had MS official guidance updated was a big downer. A lot of what had to say, suggest, would be looked upon incongruously, and then be dismissed with, 'MS guidance does not say so'.

And most of this was while architecting a web application or a dot com.

Notice that there are two archetypes in the guide, one for a plain old vanilla Web Application, and another for an RIA. Also notice a subtle difference between them, which being presence of a service layer over business layer that presentation layer talks to. Now if one looked at the older guide, no way would you be able to validate this difference, even though since early release of ASP.NET AJAX, and WCF, technical set asked for something similar to what is now laid out as part of RIA archetype.

Thankfully the new guide has an archetype for RIA's as distinguished from that of a Web App, and guess all of above is set to change.

Also hopefully having these two archetypes will help, not only in bringing out variations in the two types to focus, but also for stakeholders and team members into knowing what is it that they are really making.
Guess a dotCom is surely a web application, but if it is desired to be a Web2.0 RIA, well then there is a difference in how it needs to be architected and designed.

Thus the guide would go a long way to both focus attention to this fact, and also in aligning thought processes and mindsets.

And yes,as the saying goes, better late than never.

What is Web2.0 and how can it help

A buzzword, some new jargon, just a fad, or another marketing brouhaha ?

Well sort of tough to explain in a short span of a blog post, but i'll try.

And as a really short answer, i'll say, an article.

What? Yes really, an article by an influential thought leader, if you will, of what characterizes a successful dotCom. Guess that is where it really began, and then around these central points number of other gurus have commented, built a checklist, recommendations and other examples of what does and does not a Web2.0 site make.

Well, am a dotCom architect, where part of my brief is to make possible features and functionality desired by stakeholders and owners of the web app.

And in my experience, Web2.0 really is all about context; larger background from which one thinks to arrive at what would work with users of the site.
This applies to tech architecture as much as it does to information architecture and user experience.
Yes you read that right, to tech architecture as much as to user experience and information architecture. Now how elements of Web2.0 impact/serve as framework for tech architecture, is a set of posts, so watch this space. For now, here is one element of Web2.0, perpetual beta and its technical application, which implies 'over' doing tech architecture.
And that is consistent with my experience too, where it is counterproductive to spend too much time creating a framework of similar complexity and depth as one would for an enterprise application. Yup, that 'Beta' tag applies all the way through, to the steel frame as much as to the woodwork.
Aghast? Surprised? Don't agree? Do comment and as i said earlier, watch this space.

Nokia's Real Slim Shady

Oks so here's goes an 'update' to the review of Nokia's slim and smart, smart phone E71, which i bought almost as soon as it was launched in India market.
And just in case after having read previous post, about E71,u thought i was less than thorough(guess never completed covered all the features), here let me start by pointing out E71's one feature that has been getting my friends and acquaintances to buy. Yup, once again as obliquely covered by title, Nokia's new smart phones 'slimness' is what is catching user's attention. Guess no one wanted to see a big bulky, but feature laden phone from Nokia, and everyone is surprised that their desire for a sleeker design have been more than fulfilled.
So go take a look, in case u have not till now, and even u'll be surprised, as so many others, as to the sheer sophistication in looks department that this phone has.

Now,for all those gadget geeky mongers, who want the complete feature list.
Well all i gotta to say to that is, am using it now for almost six months and there is still something left to discover. Yup this is a full functioning smart phone, where one can browse, have push email(even gmail), get connected over WiFi, connect to office network over VPN, and have VoIP conversations.
Guess there is so much, that don't think all of it is useful to the same demographic.
Which is why looks like Nokia launched another, similar looking phone, E63, which is cheaper, and reduces on some of the features, like camera quality and hot swappable memory.
And guess this is the only grouse that have with E71; that it has a cheaper cousin now, giving unconverted users a choice, something that we early adopters missed; and also that E63 looks just the same as its expensive cousin, leaving with wondering, if the real slim smart, smart phone stand out:)

Acer's Think Pad

This post and following intended as a sort of update to 'reviews' of E71 and Acer Aspire One, two gadgets bought in last year which i think are a 'definitive' have for any one with a digital mindset.
Anyways, so in line with first in first out, like to talk of two not so good things about Aspire. First is the battery life, which lasts for just over an hour; at least for the first week, till i discovered that maybe it is not being fully charged in the first place. And this looks like the real problem, where battery meter on status bar shows 98% or 99% full and bulb glows green though there is still some scope for charging. Advertised battery life is 2hrs plus, and one can get that, provided before initial use care is taken to ignore battery meter and charge it for 5-6 hrs.

So much for the battery thing, now for the other prob, obliquely indicated by title, pointing to a small mouse pad that Acer's netbook is endowed with. Well am a savvy laptop user, if i say so myself, and took me just about a day to get used to this pointing device on Aspire One. However, now that have come to use this new gadget more and more and in unlikeliest of places and poses, think if this had a, what's the term, trackball, that red bindi bang in middle of keyboard.

Yes, that's what, and if Acer can have some way of providing it in coming editions of Aspire One(point one?) then this would truly be a ThinkPad, only Acer's.

Start Me Up

Okie so this is not a Windows* launch advert from over 14 years ago, nor has it anything to do with Rolling Stones song of the same name/title.

Just a small post, almost a note from myself of now to future self, of this process of changing gears, shifting priorities, setting of new goals and different directions.

From what can make out till now, it happens in phases, this 'conversion' if u will, from being an 'employee' to being a 'business owner'. Now just in case fore going words give a wrong impression, i'll say its fun, with surprises aplenty, and things in a state of (constant?) flux. And that is what attracted one in the first place, right? Yup. Totally bored of doing the same thing over and over, caught in a straight jacket, blocked from trying new things, doing it differently.

Well so here i am, researching stuff, making plans, figuring out finances, checking out competition, bringing up my daughter, wondering at what is happening to current generation of youth, and yes writing this, all at the same time and from comfort of my home.

Guess this is phase 0, a 'First Creation', where everything is in head, and anything looks possible.

Yo to that.

*Windows 95 launching in August of that year used the said song for its TV commercial

Mohe Rang De Basanti

Jan 26 was unusually warm for a Jan day, cutting short winter and making one feel of spring come yearly.
So unlike record breaking cold wintery days witnessed last year.

If weather is any indication to go by, this 60th year of Republic of India seems full of promise and hope already, almost as a contrast to how things are currently.
Hopefully rest of the year would take on this same quality of warmth and lightness, ,cutting short economic winter that seems have come over India and Indian industry.

For now, wherever one looks, it is color red that one sees; financial charts, industrial output, etc etc. And before things turn green, guess they turn orange, like ordering of lights on a traffic signal. And maybe this is what the promise of the year is, ringing the words of title song from a movie released this day over three years ago.