This past weekend a few of us were able to get Friday off from work and we went to both Malaysia and Singapore! We visited Kuala Lumpur and went up to the Twin Towers and got an awesome view of the city from a variety of angles. Singapore was amazing, definitely my new favourite city. We only had a day and an half in Singapore, but we packed it with a lot of activities. From riding a Segway on the beach, going on a duck boat tour, a nighttime safari and so much more.
Aside from that I have been put in charge of revamping our current website and making it look alot better than it currently does. My other job is to make it easy enough to update if you have no experience in web programming. I have a couple ideas of what I want to do with the website, but I have no clue on how I will implement it for now. I personally have little to no experience in web programming so this should be an exciting and challenging task. It works out well since I have to make my own portfolio website later on this year before I enter the job market.
I will likely try to do something using HTML 5 as I have seen some really cool web pages set up using that. I have also been looking into WebGL and JQUERY for special effects and to do things like parallax scrolling and what not. The more time I spend researching on web development the more I get excited at all the possibilities. Normally in game programming, when you start its difficult to show people your work easily. Especially if you are still very new to programming due to all the technicalities involved in making an .exe run on several machines. However with web pages you can have a website up and running in an hour, a day if you are new to web development.
I finished my first week of work here at DNET and it was a really interesting week. I can safely say that I have not had two days at work where I did the same thing.
I had some downtime at work and I didn’t exactly want to sit around and browse the internet and I was a bit lazy to work on my personal programming projects. Since I am more then familiar with the Adobe creative suite I offered my Photoshop skills to them and within the hour I was working with Illustrator editing some of their technical documentation. Granted had little to no Illustrator experience before, but I lot of what I knew from Photoshop helped me out. My colleagues seemed to be pleased and I felt less useless :D.
Aside from the office work, on Thursday I had the opportunity to head to the Polytech University’s School of Hotel Tourism and Management to set up some tech. DNET entered a competition based upon building tech for “tomorrow’s guest room”. Several other companies also applied but DNET managed to win with their DN-7000 model that I talked about in my last post. So I spent some time during the week making sure I could install and debug it so that it worked when we had to install them in 3 model guestrooms.
There were several categories in the competition however I didn’t get time to see them all since we managed to install and demonstrate all our devices before everyone else came in. I saw some other people installing a VOIP operated system that worked with the display in the room to help the user use the hotel’s services while also being able to reserve tables and order online. The menu of the restaurant’s would show up on the TV while a map of the seating arrangements would also show up on screen.
Oh yeah the hotel even had self cleaning toilets! They had a button that would… clean your behind for you also. Haha. I was more amazed by this then a grown man should have been. There were a couple other buttons on it as well, but they all made to many sounds when I pressed them and I didn’t want the people outside to wonder what I was doing in there.
I was really impressed by Hong Kong’s use of technology. Especially in the science park! Every place I went to was working with the latest software updates (Android 4.2, Windows 8 and whatever version of iOS and OS). I am used to working for larger North American corporations who find it more cost effective to deploy older software that they still have licenses for while not updating to the latest version. I can understand why they do that: they have other systems that have been tested and depend on those pieces of software and the workforce is already trained with that version. IE: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I really don’t like that mentality though. In the Science park there is a lot of innovation and collaboration going on that is possible with never software versions that allow them to do some really futuristic stuff.
More on that part later!
Next time I’ll likely talk about the “google glass” augmented reality talk I went to on Friday. Oh and since July 1st is also Hong Kong SAR day, we get the day of work! But the global edge crew will be volunteering at LKF street in this Canada Day festival. There is so much going on and I am loving it!
I don’t do this often, re-blogging that is. This time I have to make an exception because I read a great post from an ‘anon’ user on a forum that offers some pretty great insight into the ‘new’ Microsoft. I am sure many of you have heard about Notch and Gabe Newell’s opposition of Windows 8 and their Metro UI. It has gotten to the point that they will not support the OS with Minecraft and Steam accessibility.
Here is the post:
“Market has changed in the last couple of years. Microsoft has always been reliant on desktop PC’s and their monopoly (once they got it). They focused on software and were pretty happy with the things as they were. Executives weren’t willing to go out of their comfort zone and explore new markets. They only acted once competitors succeeded in different markets (Xbox, Zune), even then, it was always a half-assed attempt that got abandoned in favor of bigger and better things (Xbox is pretty much the only exception, maybe along with .Net).
Apple on the other hand started out as a hardware company. Like Microsoft they stuck with what they knew, this almost made them bankrupt a few times, but they were able to survive long enough to see the hardware rejuvenation era (cheap labor, basically). They (just Jobs at this point) realized they can’t survive with just sticking to what they know, so Apple started to buyout lots of talent to expand their product portfolio. Which led to the Ipod and Itunes. Since Apple produced closed platforms since the dawn of time, these new products had a closed ecosystem as well. Fast forward to Iphone and the age of 3G, WiFi, always on internet (not to mention brilliant ad campaigns), they became hugely successful because they were the first to mass-market the advances of the technology to non-tech-savvy population.
This is incredibly alien to Microsoft. In the last 10 years, they’ve witnessed the creation of the biggest market ever, but they weren’t willing to do anything about it. Now that the Apple have become the biggest corporation in human history, they woke up.
They woke up, because this kind of market shift happened before to many other industries. Cinemas, were the dominant form of visual entertainment, now everyone has a big screen TV and can watch any film they’d like via DVDs/Blu-rays. Cinemas are still big, all around the world. New movies always come first to the movie theaters, but the sheer number of people who have TVs at home just dwarfs it. Effectively, cinemas have become a niche product. Still profitable, but not as profitable as others. I wrote this as an example that this kind of shift happened before and everyone can relate to it someway, it’s not meant to be a perfect representation of current events mind you.
It’s simple, Microsoft doesn’t want to become a niche developer (still big, profitable with stable growth, but a niche compared to other markets). They want to exploit this new market, and they are late to the party already. They need to act, and they need to act fast, otherwise it may be too late (if it isn’t already).
Cue in Windows Phone 7. It should have worked, but didn’t. If you ask any WP7 user, one thing they are sure to complain about, is the lack of selection on the software side (apps, needs apps). Microsoft knew this would happen, so they tried to lure their desktop developers with known tools (C#, XNA, .Net, familiar development environments). It should have worked it theory, but they realized, at this point, it became a chicken in the egg problem. Developers don’t make apps because there aren’t enough users, there aren’t enough users because there aren’t enough apps.
Things are starting to look grim now. They tried and failed (miserably). They didn’t have enough developer support to jump-start the platforms. It’s time to abuse their monopoly. Result is Metro Modern UI. Having a mandatory tablet/phone like environment in the desktop, will force developers to support it. Windows market is huge, they are bringing the monopoly in full force, even if a tiny fraction of developers support the new UI, it’ll create bazjillion of apps, ready for the prime time in mobile market.
To recap, they are trying to leverage their desktop monopoly, by coercing them into developing mobile (Windows RT) compatible software, so that when WP8 finally hits the market, it’ll have bazjillions of apps ready at the Windows Store.
This is bad, because they want to go with Apply way (rather than Windows Android way) with this. They are on their way to create one of the biggest closed platforms in the history of mankind (or so they think), and they are willing to sacrifice everything for it.”
I am sure that sounds like boring business stuff, but there is still some importance here.
When designing game engines we think about the user experience and other things. As an OS developer Microsoft is thinking about expanding their brand to all tech platforms. They still have the user in mind, along with some businessy political warblegarble stuff we don’t really care about (market share, loosing money, blah blah). Microsoft has already implemented this Metro UI with the Xbox 360’s dashboard UI. We know that they want to expand to the mobile market, but their current attempts have been less rewarding as their past projects. So by creating a UI that is similar in look, style and function throughout all their platforms you would think that would be a good idea right? It seems like the developers don’t think so.
It seems like Microsoft is looking at their competition and looking at what markets they are heading into and figuring out where to go. This can only suck for us because Microsoft is following the wrong competition! Apple! NOOOOOooooo! Microsoft is focusing their efforts in the Mobile and Tablet market. I personally sit directly on top of the fence that is between liking and hating touchscreen mobile devices and tablets. I find tablets very useful for turning mundane tasks we used to accomplish via mouse and keyboard into an interactive and ‘fun’ experience.
I wish Microsoft would be following the direction of Valve, Ouya, Oculus Rift, Google Glasses and so on. This idea of a connected system that gives a lot of freedom to the user rather than pigeonholing them into something. User experience, innovative tech that we can use as tools to entertain, build, advance; these are things we should be focusing on. Apple and Microsoft are looking for the most profitable market tested products. The only usefulness of a tablet device is to help bridge the gap between PC’s and Mobile Device.
I think Game Engine developers should focus on developing their game engines to be platform-independent and be able to support any input device (Kinect, PS Move, MIDI keyboard, NES Zapper). Once all game developers have access to a single platform, making games will be super simple. However, that may not be the best idea. If it allows for anyone to make a game, then I might be out of a future job…