Sunday, April 18, 2010

the final review

Examining the reason why I forsook the comfort of a normal 5-module semester of ease to take this lengendary killer course, I must admit, Im not a so-called sucker for pain since I slacked, as some had predicted, from time to time, yet I was hoping to learn as much as possible, and now I'm delighted to see that for every sem I spent in NUS I become better equipped in the field of IT.
The pity is now I believe I could have learnt more had I spent more sleepless nights in COM1.

Now I shall list down those I considered as achievements.
Firstly, much more experienced in programming, I can code faster now, with better code structure, better modularization. Basicly programming requires practice,no shortcut and the only way to be better off is to keep dirtying ur hands. I coded more lines than the past 3 sems in NUS combined (psss, dont accuse me of slacking, I do slack, when I dont, I do hardcore job). The pity is, my typing speed is slow still, cant do touch typing.

secondly, more confidence pumped in. Beforehand I didn't know what I can achieve with certain amount of effort. Now looking back at the things I've made, actually not bad. Some are quite close to my original vision. By the time I had visions, I doubted my own capability. Now Im pretty confident that I'm capable of doing some stuff.

thirdly, at the same time more humble. I've broadened my outlook. I saw a lot during this course, I saw mediocre fellows, I saw godlike people, I saw great projects, I saw meaningless work, and I always reflect on meself, and realizes how good things can be and how bad they can turn out. Then I will tell myself,"you are weak, you cant flip a mountain, observe and adapt".

One very important point, following up the note of "you are weak", is that I vividly and tangibly feel the neccesity of teamwork. A team of four cannot flip a mountain still, but can pump in significantly more power as compared to one man soloing. Sometimes after half day of hardcore drawing and coding I might take a break and go back to look at the progress of the whole project, then I looked at the parts that're contributed by my team, then I can only deeply sigh 'alas'. "If this, were all to be done by me, what a horror would I be facing!" I am a romantic person and deep inside me I always think of individualism and heroism, but reality always drive me to accept the fact that teamwork is superior.

lastly, I learnt hell lot about Flash and Actionscript. From a man knowing absolutely nothing about it, to a considerable height in animation and game mechanism, I shall say, it's been quite an enjoyable journey. I always found out, and I always believe that Im quite a bit artistic. If I was born in the classic age, I would probably carry on with sculpture and may got some chance to eventually become someone in the world of art.

one last note, dont ever believe that miracle's gonna strike someone becoz he/she got the luck,
miracle is only gonna strike you if you had pumped in a hell lot of hardwork beforehand.

Monday, March 22, 2010

aya The weeks

the weeks fly, I don't feel it though. seems I havn't been blogging since I went home for Spring Festival, but I still can hardly feel the flow of the past weeks.
Things happened weeks ago are like happend just yesterday.
When I was young I feel life was long, a 40-minutes class can be so tormenting -- to stick my ass on the seat for 40 minutes.
Now, thing's are hell different. I dont even feel a day. I found life to be so short that you can always find youself put into a timespace where you think you should still be imagining its happenning months in the future. Relentlessly, a supposed future always arrives faster than I'm ready to be in. hehe, I'm so scared by the fast flowing of time, realizing that if scaled up, my whole life is gonna just pass in a flash, without even sensing that effect.
So how to make 50 years longer? I wish I were back in the childhood, where days drag like years.
but that's never gonna happen again, childhood is for ever gone, so as teenage. 50 years' gonna become shorter and shorter.
The only way to save me, is to keep me away from these thoughts.
To make me busy for life so I don't have time to worry about such helpless things.
actually these days are quite busy. I've been coding and coding and almost mentally paralyzed.
1 thing I recognize more deeply as I 'm soloing the flash part of our project is, sometimes it is really a despair to admit that individual power is pathetic, there are so many games there developed by other people that can cost you a life time to build it alone--or can only build a few of them in a life time, being optimistic.
I wanted to challenge this fact of life, from time to time though. but never succeeded once, always found meself weak, and flawed in the end.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Reflections, pitching session

Prince of Persia
Oh my dear good friend Xu Yecheng, he is so keen to be part of the project. Wish him good luck. The reason I refrained from applying to join his team is about how much time we have left and how much work we will have done by the end. I'm afraid time's not enough to get involved in such a big project. If they managed to make the timeline possible, then I'll be suspecting how much work will be assigned to my coursemates. Whatever cases, despite the actual amount of contributions they can make to the whole project I believe they will learn a lot if they have the heart.

Nimbus makes me think of the Xbox blockbuster Halo. It's not a game, but sounds fancy. I didn't quite get the point of the project last time. Still I can smell it. I can smell the potential of this data service, which is quite linked to the concept of cloud computing. It is going to be another revolutionary method in terms of enhancing productivity of today's information related industry. They do it well, they'll make big money out of it. Thinking of this I start slobbering..

World City Summit
What a hub Singapore is! Converging all kinds of conversations and talents from all over the world. This is again another example. I dare not speak big, but at least I can say Singapore is far more informative a place than cities near Shanghai back in my hometown. From time to time I feel blessed to be here, there are so many events year round for a student to keep up with the pace of the world's trend. To put meself in local governors' shoes, isn't this exactly what they must keep doing to hold the city under the world's spotlight? If cities like Singapore lose world's attention, they will fall behind.
Back to this particular event, I'm very interested in it personally. Many a time I thought to myself how blessed I am to live in such a wonderful age of mankind. We are born in such a fast developing period. Our civilization is in its booming golden age and, in general, men's life are getting better everyday thanks to the wisdom and intelligence of our specie. Then I start to fear. A golden age will always end, will it? it can end in many ways. wars, extraterrestrial intervention, or by unsustainable development.
War never changes, we civilians don't want it, yet some big powers can always start a fire.. but that's not the point, anyway it's unlikely to ruin our whole civilization. Btw, I don't think ppl are stupid enough to let things like nuking the whole planet in Sci-fis happen in real world.
Extraterrestrial intervention, it's even more unlikely, the sun's gonna live on for another billions of years before it will possibly explode. An asteroid hitting the earth has negligible probability. Even if such intervention comes, nothing we can do.
What involves the most human factor is the last one, about unsustainable development. I'm not knowledgeous, yet it's so easy to feel that the whole planet is in very bad condition. A summit like this provides a platform for governors from different parts of the world to learn from each other. Cities can learn from each other's successful experience as well as lessons of disasters. I believe this summit will be very constructive. Many governors' future policies will be affected.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Case Study on Get help~

The overall visual impression of the interface is fine. It's neat and in concord with the Facebook theme. Clearly to me that they are skilled at UI crafting. What is obviously missed, however, is a striking logo, which I think every app of such kind should have one consistently in the top left of the page.

Home Page
If it was me who were to design this page, i would probably end up with a similar layout (maybe not as nice, but it does remind me of the considerations when designing Campus Sale) for the first iteration. I would try to make it the simplest as possible, but still want to include all those I think is necessary into the layout, and in the end I would find I have to put quite some amount of text down below the search bar('call for help!'). For an app like this, that detailed search form appearing in the first page isn't very user friendly. It makes the user hesitate before the complexity to use, or at least make them think about it. What about just hide them in a collapsed header, if user wants, he/she can just expand it themself. A better way is, the detail form as well as other options for posting a need be all moved to a second page which user will see after clicking the call for help button.
I think only including the 'new project' functionality in the home page is a bit waste. Instead of the various options, information from overview page should appear in the area below the get help bar, to provide user with a more general view.

Overview Page
the overview page is quite in point, pretty much the same as how I imagine an app like this should be. For the navigation buttons on the top, I know they wanted to play some tricks to make it fancy, but I still prefer an upright position to tilted ones (at least don't tilt the text).

People may want to keep a page like this, but if I were a user, I won't look at this page becoz it is of little value to me. Those titles are not very meaningful. Such things can't be incentives, do people put in lot of time and labor just to get some useless title in the stats page? if the app gets popular, there will be many of them that have helped quite a lot ppl, then how do we distribute the titles? Are we going to create hundreds of different titles, should we see hundreds of good samaritans, or should there be only a few getting titles out of thousands that helped a lot?
This is not Yahoo Answer, where a very high score indicates a good knowledge, and therefore a slightly higher chance to know the answer to your question. Here you want to get things done, not just ask questions, even there is someone who has helped dozens of people then what? Maybe a veteran just helped dozens of recruits from nearby camps install their plasma rifles. If the thing you want to do is irrelevant then it is just irrelevant, looking at the samaritans will hardly give you any clue. Other stats like ppl sparked the most fires and hottest project maker is totally meaningless to me. If developer insists on keeping stats as a major tab page, I'd say only the Great Gurus might be worthy to keep track of since those with knowledge of different people are somewhat likely to help you find the helper.

Some of the points I've covered in Statistics part already. The badge system is ok, since it's a minor feature.. but If you want to rely on it as an incentive for people to offer help, that will be a naive idea.

Another thing I want to point out is the overuse of metaphors in the webpage like project to 'fire'. That makes the app look less serious, after all, this app is to help ppl get things done. Developers kinda outsmarted themselves by creating so many metaphors.

Some post scriptum: I'm afraid, there won't be many using this app. Though I can see the effort by developers trying to make it as simple and easy to use as possible, the complexity overweighs the usability. If one needs help, what I often see are updated statuses, and these are often well engaged by people already. We don't have many people in this world who would raise needs so frequently that will need a help asking manager(unless there's a profession called problem raiser). A standalone app that needs extra effort to setup is really hard to attract inpatient people out there today.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

squeeze out time, waste time

..then he realized he still had a last week's blog to write, so he jotted down the following:

last time there was a famous Chinese saying on the Internet, of course by some contemporary author, which described time management as this:"Time is like woman's(even man's) cleavage, can always get some by squeezing." This turns out to be quite true. last time before I decided to take 3216, a big concern was the time issue. I was not sure how much time could possibly be taken away by 3216 projects, or in other words how much time would be left for me to allocate to the rest of my life. Would I be able to cope with courses and activities other than 3216? This was a big question.

Now I must say, things are not going too bad. So far I've been finishing all my homeworks in time and I attended all the lectures! From time to time I even went for the dragonboat team's training though not as often as the old days but good thing is I didn't quit. I did purposely try to pick up the pace of life in order to confront a tighter schedule, yet I didn't feel much impact on meself, no drastic changes that could cause a shock. Weird as it is, I did camp in COM1 overnight, but always got quite some amount of sleep the next day, and went for class after that(coz classes are in the afternoon).

I carefully thought about it, then easily I got the conclusion. I had been wasting huge amount of time for the past years and I am(was) very used to it. The time was really wasted in the sense that now I make use of it in serious work without even noticing it's actually consumed (meaning such time was once used doing random stuff that I don't even think about). Furthermore the time wasted was in huge amount because now I am using extra huge amount of them in project work.

Well actually I don't have much to say regarding this waste time thing. I don't really feel sorry about that. I'm kind of used to the flaws of human beings, including myself of course. People can accuse me for being idle, and I'm certainly not advocating the discipline of seizing every moment of life. Being flawed is certainly an essential element in the meaning of life. There are things I don't want to artificially alter.

Now I do not question the feasibility of people taking 7 modules a semester, and I don't envy their ability either, since now I believe one can always squeeze out his/her time like the cleavage:P.

Monday, February 1, 2010

critique on FameLeague presented by Cedric et al.

(digression: for a while I kinda pondered, why they chose to make a seminar topic on this 'loser' app, since what Cedric repeatedly and elaborately described is the other prediction market thing. whaha I understand they must have been through a hardtime after making this decision:P)
so much as I can recall:

prediction market has a huge potential, we know not why it works though. Yet many a incidents well known out there have proven its stunning precision, certainly a boon to bookies. It will be revolutionary if proven universally applicable. Companies will certainly benefit from it in terms of making decisions. however, If everyone gets to make use of the prediction market, the whole commercial world will behave differently from what we see now. As how? I don't know, it's too complicated to analyze with my little knowledge, but things confirm gets to change. Or, maybe overuse of prediction market will make it become less effective compared as it is today. (imagine if all the bookies in the world start to rely on it..)

The app itself is not successful, given the amount of effort they put in to build it(this I can see from its complexity) and its current popularity.
I played for a while last night, and found exactly as Cedric said, that it too complicated qua a facebook app, and indeed, the actual app page is directed to its own website.
There appears to be no focus. For a while I thought this was some kinda flash SIM type game. Later I realized I was dealing with some sort of virtual stock market, yet I couldn't grab the mainline of the game's purpose.
The information is overloaded, when I first looked at the page, I spent a long time trying to figure out where to start my next action. Even if it will eventually prove some fun in gameplay, most users wouldn't last that long to find out before they leave permanently. So imo, it MAY be fun, but it's really awful to get started, and in nature SNS users bear little patience.

I agree with Cedric's suggestion of improvement: make it simpler, focus on one of its compelling features and make it more interesting so the user can easily find the killing attraction and therefore stick to it.
After all, a very important point is, there ARE potentials and opportunities for this kind of apps. If the developers build on what they already have, and exploit further on its potential while wiping out the retarded parts, they can still make the app a very successful one. The key is whether they are willing to go for it, or are they just fearful to change what is already there.

The idea that title 'Fame league' conveys is quite novel and interesting, as someone mentioned in early presentations that man has 7 sins, being Pride one of them. If captured properly, an app will surely receive a high popularity by catering for ppl's desire for pride. If Fame League fails to reshape itself , there will still be other apps taking the idea over and prosper. same works for the prediction market idea.

that should be all for now..

Monday, January 25, 2010

Doing OK?

so fast another week's past. blogging again. Not much too say indeed, while life's become so much more tiring recently.

Doing OK?
I was perusing some of my fellow coursemates' recent blogs a while back, and found meself reading many thoughts not so close to the undergoing project, and think to myself, is it people caring less about what is at hand (well I only mean less)? Is it the way it should be to think and write about general stuff? Am I doing ok for just thinking and concerning my current task, which is filled with a big mess of detailed technical stuff? coz even disregarding my language ineffectivity, I cannot come up with any deep thoughts right now to write down even in chinese. Does this mean Im not mature enough to care about things that a grown up should always ponder in their everyday life? coz all that was filled in my mind for the past weeks is simply about the apps I am making. I would find myself so empty if I am to write abstract stuff supposedly drawn from the class. hmm, makes me being questioned myself: your can't be so simple a person, yea?
Well I think things are going fine. I'm just sometimes a bit fretful.

Pursuit for excellency
how to make a great piece of art? only my point of view: Only if you are pursuing excellency and perfection. No other way will do. A good example is a freak called Michaelangelo. Seeing his works will tell, that what kind of stunning splendor can be achieved by desire, and passion, and desire, and passion, and more. making an app can be an art, yet great art piece doesn't mean great profit, which leaves a choice for different kinds of people to make. Profits matters most of the time, yet often excellency also brings happiness. right now I just don't know what kind of person I could turn out to be in the context of the above scenario. Prior to all that concerning, however, I have to make meself a much better craftsman.

What else to learn?
honestly speaking I hate camping in COM1 overnight, coz recently I really feel somekind of energy falling short, which makes me quite low sometime (especially when suddenly bringing into to mind another blog or homework to be done..), but I obviously cannot leave my dear energetic partners spending the rest of the night without me. Well according to my observation, my team is the most hardworking one, with no other team I have witnessed been staying up every single day since we launched 2 weeks ago. I must say this exhaustive approach really gets me learn a lot, but to be honest so far what I have learned are those can be learned (by self learning) in other SE classes. I may not be aware of something, but I kinda feel there should be something else to learn. that cannot be teamwork, coz every project based course trains you with that. Self learning ability? maybe, but that's what I've already acquired, right now is to master it. and several other not-so-unique skills I will not mention here. Time management can be one. I heard people saying we're gonna learn a lot of things before and right after I took the course, so far I havn't touch many of them yet, I think. but I guess this is a gradual process, maybe I'm just not feeling it.