Get Help: a case study

Okay.. let's try my best here. Read more »

Status Time Capsule: a restrospective

While I'm writing this, our Facebook app Status Time Capsule is in the process of migration from Amazon EC2 to a commodity web server. It's currently not working and probably won't for quite a while, and we're definitely not going to continue developing it again any time soon, so I guess it's the right time to reflect on the process of creating it :)

In the beginning was Git

At first we had this grand vision of open sourcing the app and putting it up on github. Apparently only one person in our team (Joey) knew about Git, he set up Github and everything for us... until we started implementing our deployment method and serendipitously discovered that the other 3 people (including me) were much more comfortable using Mercurial instead of Git. So then we started using Mercurial and we probably saved about 5 to 10 man-hours of learning Git. Read more »

Pitching session and some interesting people

An unproductive day. Let's make it less unproductive.

Last Monday's CS3216 pitching session was graced by a lot of interesting people. Read more »

A night of Present-and-Listen

Yesterday CS3216 just had a seminar about the latest-and-greatest Facebook/iPad applications. Let's review one application that I was asked to review: Pekay's Little Author.

What I get from the presentation

Pekay's Little Author makes it very easy for children and adults to create your own storybook. It's available as desktop, Facebook, and iPad app. As the features suggest, the target market of the app is primarily children and the app has done a good job for it. The interface is intuitive and fun enough for children to use, the base characters and sprite libraries are cute. (Perhaps not so much for the advanced control buttons (the play, next button etc. look complicated and rather out-of-place), but I guess those controls are made for the older children and/or the parents.) Read more »

Bullet points of Microsoft Goodies


  • It is supposed to be the One True Platform that unifies the web and the mobile. Microsoft absolutely wants a One True Platform, yes -- but one that they can control. So recent Microsoft support regarding HTML 5 must be regarded critically. For example, excellent hardware-accelerated graphics support in IE might be an attempt to lock implementations to work best on IE only. Then when people notice, Microsoft will start offering IE-specific APIs to access hardware... which is all over the same tactics they used to drive Netscape to extinction last time.
  • Standards (de-jure usage) come after real world implementations are used (de-facto usage) in tech sectors like this. So I'm not surprised to see the various workarounds we can use right now to enjoy all the HTML 5 goodies. Two specific workarounds that were mentioned are ExtJS and modernizr.

Windows Phone 7 and beyond

  • Security were cited as a reason why Windows 7 phones cannot be used as a regular storage like your thumb drive.
Read more »

On the software engineering lecture

The last post wasn't really about the lecture, so this one is :)

How do we inspire people?

As we talked about how we inspire people by why we do instead of what and how, it is creepingly similar to this TED talk by Simon Sinek. I guess Prof Ben had watched this before, and I agree that this is a very inspiring concept :)

Software engineering practices 

About the software engineering practices: they are not exactly very new to me although I have no formal experience in that area. Dealing with people, decoupling, division of work etc. are all so common even outside software engineering that they are no-brainer common sense to everyone that has seriously managed a meaningful project or organisation (I hope this is not too biased). Read more »

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