When Your Baby Goes Global

World of Warcraft Surpasses 5 Million Customers Worldwide.

That’s gotta be another notch in Blizzard’s belt.

I was trying to align other software in my mind to the Massive Multiplayer Online game. They are projects that use the internet as a conduit specifically. You can’t download and play on your own computer without an internet connection. It’s not like using QuickBooks, which is a standalone product. It’s not like using Windows, or Linux, because they’re OS’s. Different category.

Maybe they are a new category. Other software utilises the internet to allow certain functionality, but WoW and the others are totally reliant on having connection to the interweb.

Anyway, my initial thoughts were … Blizzard have to be getting into the upper eschelons of the Big Software Gurus … having a product that has 5 millions users.

I suppose IE and Firefox would have the largest amount of users … although my breadth of knowledge in this area is pretty small. They would definately be up there in terms of :: how many people use this piece of software?

So … maybe that would be a good piece of research …

How many people use this piece of internet-reliant software? We use the term "internet-reliant" to mean that you cannot operate the software without having an Internet connection.

But then, is that a connection to a nebulous group (file-sharing), or to specific servers (WoW), or just to the Internet (browsers).

Hmmm. Not sure. This deserves a little more thought.

The Winding

It’s the end of the year, and most people I talk to are very excited about winding down for christmas and new years.

The first thought is that the problem for my brain is, once I take enough time off, and that might only be a couple of days, my brain starts forgetting things. This is bad, mostly, because when I come back to work, it’s a week or more to regain that ground.

The next thought is … when you have deadlines that don’t follow holiday patterns, you can’t really take holidays when everyone else does … and that’s cool. I aint got no gripes.

I guess that’s what it comes down to. After the fact, when the product is done, out, beta finished, and there aren’t massive heart-stopping bugs, a holiday will probably be well worth it.

To everyone who reads this blog … may your Christmas and New Years be awesome. And may you find true happiness, of the absolute kind. Which does exist. Absolute. Not relative. Ha ha.

Standing At The Lights

Waiting for the little green man. Waiting for the cars to clear.

When you stand at the lights, what do you wait for? The little green man, or the cars to clear?

There’s a busy intersection near my work. It is either choc-a-block full of cars, or empty. So that you can generally walk across before the little man goes green. So that means watching the cars.

The other day I was at the lights, and this thought ocurred to me.

In Development, we are either waiting for the little green man, or we are watching the cars.

What the? Has insanity finally broken Stu’s brain apart? What is this?

It’s only the beginning of a thought at the moment, but I think it has merit.

There are set standards and rules in Development. We can follow them, and get by very well. It’s safe.

And you can think around outside and watch what is happening in the world itself, see how things are reacting within the environment that is set, and react to those events. You are not waiting to see the little green man, you are waiting until the road is clear of cars.

Now, I’m not going to take this analogy any further, because it falls apart pretty easily once you push it along. But it doesn’t have to go any further. It’s this little thought that sparks more.

So, is it the little green man? Or is it the clearing of cars?

I want to think around what is set and standard, and push within the world of development we live in. Push further. Look around at the reality (cars on the street) rather than the standards (red/green men on poles).

Is This The Next Step?

Where Computer Interfaces Are Going : 3D Beyond Games is a very cool little article about the future of Development. It’s been Slashdotted.

I’m reading this, and I’m thinking … this is pretty cool. Then the first reality check hits home. When would this be useful? Using 3d within a System. You’d have bits in 2d and 3d. Some would combine I’m sure.

But are we talking about Development or the end product? Maybe both. Imagine Developing … you write code in 2d, but then view the procedural structure in 3d. You’d move around the database in 3d, organising tables etc.

Then you have the actual System.

The problem with developing Systems in 3d is, noone really knows how it would work. Has anyone released an Accounting System that successfully amalgamates 2d and 3d interfaces? It hasn’t been done. It’s very, very early days.

But that isn’t going to stop me thinking about this. Maybe even experimenting. I’ve done some hard labour with DirectX … there’s plenty of open-source engines to use.

And then, at the end of the article, I find out that Tristan is working on something called … tactile 3D. It’s a product. From the site … "Software to browse, explore, and organise your file-system in 3D". So it has begun.

It’s going to be a big hurdle to get over. The actual mindset of work vs play. The 3D engine is so caught up in Gaming, and transferring this technology across into the Business world will take something special. But I think it’s going to happen, it should happen.

Two Different Visions

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat; But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!

Thus begins Rudyard Kipling’s "The Ballad of East and West".

Recently, I have seen first hand what happens when you have two purposes trying to co-exist under the one banner.

If you’re a single developer, moving your own projects from Go to Woe … then perhaps Purpose Clarity is more appropriate. I know this for fact, from my own experience. It’s about a congealed mass of muddy half-thoughts that might have some direction. It’s about clearing those away, forging them into steel.

However, when you work as a team … then Rudyard comes into play.

I was at a presentation the other day, where two visions were shared. How did I know? I’m not sure … but I knew it as soon as the second was spoken. I’m not sure the person speaking understood that they were presenting a different vision from the first. A lot of people in the room might not have understood either. But it was there, hanging in the air.

And this then turns my mind to how people approach the nebulous concept that is "work". In fact, more than that. How people approach problem-solving in general. In life itself. And it’s more than problem-solving. It involves the Ego/Self-Awareness talked about previously. It involves the above ability to approach problems. It involves management. Leadership. Submission. Purpose.


The Candidate

Most probably will come across as a pleasant individual, capable, in command. Doesn’t think a great deal about what is being said by others, because what’s important is their own purpose. When they do listen, it’s because there’s a definite move in a direction opposed to their vision.

The problem is that often The Candidate’s vision/purpose is muddy and confused. They have ideas, but they are misshapen and unformed.

The bigger problem is when The Candidate is at the top of the Management heap. This tends to obscure things further, given that they would take a fair amount of offence to being told that they were wrong.

By the way, just as an aside, we are assuming in this discussion that Purpose No. 1 is the correct one, as in highschool physics where you assume that friction doesn’t exist when working out momentum and other lovely measurements. So for this experiment, it’s absolute.

So you have the Candidate. I’m not sure how you would approach this. There would be a number of ways.

  1. You could pull them into line straight away.
  2. You could tolerate them (dependant on their Management Level).
  3. You could get rid of them.
  4. You could promote them.

I’ve got three young kids, and I can tell you now that Number 1 is usually the best course of action, especially because as the Purpose/Vision of how we are going to raise our kids is a lot clearer in my mind than in my kids. They might want to boss their sibling around, and they do, but they know that it’s not in line with Dad and Mum’s purpose for them. How? Mainly through discipline. I’m not sure how much this analogy can be brought across … it’s almost not an analogy but a case-study. Same objects (People), same situation (Power Struggles/ Diverse Purposes).

Let me just say. I’ve been the Candidate. And it’s far better to stop and take a look. Break open the vial of Honesty Potion and swig it down. Start listening to what other people say, especially when you don’t understand. Make yourself understand, and think about where they are coming from. Think through their arguments. You still might not agree, but that’s okay. Becuase now, as they say, you understand your enemy. Although enemy might be a bit strong. Same idea. Understand what you don’t agree with, because then your own arguments come from a far stronger grounding. You will be validated, because you’re not stuttering over why you don’t agree.

I’ve rambled on enough for the moment. Sleep is calling.

Suffice to say, this is another step towards better development. Make sure you have a single purpose. Because if it gets before the Judgement Seat of the Almighty, then it’s far too late. Read up (plenty of articles, google around) on failed Development. There’s plenty of cases. Most of it happened, or began with, opposing purposes. Team ‘A’ and Team ‘1’ … that kind of thing.

‘Nuff Said.

Wishing For More Wishes

There’s that line from Aladdin, where Genie Williams says, "Three wishes… and X, nay on wishing for more wishes! That’s it! Three! Uno, dos, tres. No substitutions, exchanges or refunds!". Thanks Wiki.

I was reminded of the construct used in stories across all the medias we have available, when watching Fantastic Four, which I thought was a pretty cool movie, where there is some kind of object that breaks the rules of the universe.

In Fantastic Four, it was really obvious when Ben decided to become the Thing again. So he jumped back into the device Reed had made to simulate the bombarding radiation from space.

I enjoyed the movie, espeically because I can probably watch it soon with my kids, sooner than spidey or x-men. It was simple fun.

Wishing for more wishes breaks things. It was rife when playing Diablo 1 on battle.net … with the massive amount of hacking that went on. You introduce a weapon that is so ridiculously powerful that everything else becomes mundane.

I remember doing it with Baldur’s Gate. Getting a character hacker, and buffing up my chars.

Books, movies, games, comics, cartoons, other tv shows … it’s something that every story maker, particularly the fantastical mind, would have to deal with.

The classic example is Supes. Where would the world of Superman be without Kryptonite? It’s the one foil to his becoming a "Wishing for more Wishes" element.

So then this turned my mind to development. Are there any parallels?

I think so.

Imagine a technology is given a new face, a phrase is created, and suddenly, it’s the buzzword of the year. Hmmmm, perhaps … wait on …

Ajax has been foretold by some to be a Wishing for more Wishes construct. So has Ruby on Rails. Microsoft would like us to believe that .Net is going to take care of everything for us.

I don’t like the idea of having a product that does everything, AND gives me +50 to my damage magical creatures roll.

What I do like, is the idea that there will always be a number of different paths to a solution, and that getting the best solution will sometimes require utilising more than one tool. I don’t want a sword that doesn’t even have to be swung to waste the enemy. I want a story that is complete and uses it’s magic with subtlety.

Where am I heading? Perhaps we overpromise on our products … a side-effect of this thought process is that I can see a little more clearly that we have to be careful to maintain the focus on the core functionality.

But more than this … I never really want something that will do away with what I bring to the table. If it’s my sword skill and battle wits that bring me glory, then I never want a sword that will kill on sight.

I know, bizaro thoughts. But I’m clearing out what I started with, and stumbling towards some conscious single thought.

Don’t give away what makes development so much fun … your own creative ability. Your own sense of purpose and direction. Your coding skills. These things should be part of development for as long as we continue. There will be tools that ease the bad stuff, that’s what Clarion does so well … but they should never take over the core of development. The mind, the excitement, the fervour. Determination. Etc.

Not sure if I started or ended with a clear point … but there it is.

BlinkList, A New Bookmarker

Mike from the Mindvalley Blog commented on a post of mine about Social Bookmarking, pointing me to what seems to be his flagship product, BlinkList.

I’ve spent a few moments going over it, and wanted to post my initial reactions. Initial. Reactions.

So take those two words for everything they are. Initial because I haven’t had any time to experience what the site has to offer past the first. Reaction because that’s what happens. We experience something and we react. End Rant/Disclaimer.


BlinkList has a lot of functionality. It seems to combine bits from Digg, Slashdot and Del.icio.us all into one. There is the bookmarking, the ranking (Blinking in this case), the elements of getting to the front page, and the cool ajax functionality.

I guess something that is exciting is that you can get to the front page pretty easily at the moment. Only a few Blinks are required. At least, that’s what it looks like if you click on the "Hot Now" tab.


The Tag Cloud is nice. It’s colored, as well as the size and opacity functionality that I discovered recently using WordPress plugins. The Tag Cloud is a cool thing. And is probably what the Live Plasma originated as. Well, I guess that’s what it is, just with a fluffy exterior. Just looking, and BlinkList doesn’t have the opacity going on for the tag cloud. So strike that off the list. Just the size and the colors.

Something that just occured to me is that soon, saying "cool ajax functionality" won’t mean squat. At least, in the current understanding. Soon, sites are going to have desktop functionality as a matter of course, so then all the desktop development/design issues that we’ve been dealing with for years will become a real element in designing a website.

Which, when you think about it, is a good thing for people with desktop development experience. In fact, you could hypothesise, that in the next few years, having a good understanding of how to put together desktop apps, the pitfalls, the strengths, will give you a greater leverage within the web development world.


I might just be blowing steam. We’ll see.

Anyway, BlinkList. I think it’s probably got the elements, so time will tell. I’ve got my years of being in the gaming industry to tell me that just because a game has all the elements doesn’t mean it’s gonna fly (Troika, Looking Glass, …). And that crap will most probably move more units (lots of EA drivel, some Interplay, a lot of the big franchise games).


Initial Thoughts (short) :: Over.\