I’m back for another try

So I totally stopped posting here for 5 months. A lot has happened in the past 5 months. But I should not give any excuses.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. –Harlan Hogan

So I blew it the first time. I’ll just try again.

Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall. – Oliver Goldsmith

Wish me luck.

BTW, the site is no longer running on Heroku but a docker on Azure through Tutum. That would be the topic of my next post.

HabitRPG — Great concept, not so great implementation.

So what is HabitRPG? It is a RPG game that tries to help you build good habit in real life. You set up good habits you want to cultivate or bad habits you want to get rid of, and these become quest/missions of the game. Complete these habits will get you experience, coins, gems, etc and you can use them to get armor, weapons, and other RPG fake things but also you can setup real life reward such as TV time, game time, eat a cake, etc. It also has daily checklist, todo lists, and a big community of other players that tries to complete missions together.

I have used a lot of todo list/reminder apps. And after a while, I just get tired of them or I got too many things on the list that just makes me feel bad and frustrated when I open the app. So I never open them again. I have also heard this pattern from a lot of other people. The most recently trend is the Mailbox app and Google’s Inbox app that tries to combine todo list reminder with email. I used Google’s Inbox and felt really great at the beginning. But that pattern come back and I end up refused to check my email for several days, which is not great.

So I feel the concept of HabitRPG is great. If we can harness the power of addictive RPG game and apply it positively in our daily life, it can be very effective. I have past the age of play seriously time consuming RPG games but I remember the old days. And I still play some games that is really addictive. The most recent example is Google’s Ingress. It does not cost me big block of time but small pieces here and there. I take out my phone to play it quite frequently. And since Ingress is a location based system, it actually encouraged me to walk a lot more.

I was pretty excited to check HabitRPG out but I was very disappointed with the implementation. First of all, it is a website not a game. Of course it has mobile apps on both iOS and Android, but they are in poor quality. It is not a native app but made using Ionic which is a great framework on top of Cordova which is “the hybrid mobile app framework”. I will cover these things in the future as they are great technology and I love them. But I don’t think it is the right choice for HabitRPG. These technology are great for simple utility or information based mobile apps but not great for a game. I would totally use some game engine such as Unity to make the game experience right. There are now tons of “Freemium” games that successfully lure millions of players and suck them up with in game purchase. And HabitRPG does not even have the addictive of those bad games.

Maybe the developers did not see this as a game from the beginning but just a utility with some gaming mechanism. Maybe because it is a open source project, it is hard to develop it as a game. I have not heard of any open source game development. I’m sure they exist but likely not high quality or not large scale as HabitRPG. Because game development cost a looooooot of money especially those AAA console games. However, I believe mobile game development really made things different.

I really hope they can adjust their strategy and focus on deliver a great mobile experience. The todo list utility side is much suited for the mobile, mobile game development is harder than what they are doing now but not that hard. If not, this is probably just another todo list app that I’ll never open. I really with Google can develop one. They seems know what they are doing on how to get people hooked from the Ingress game. They say Google is going to become SkyNet in “The Terminator” but I think it will be “The Matrix“. We’ll all live in it happily ever after.

There is no spoon.

Moving datacenter is like moving apartment in real life!

  1. You have a date that you have to move. Normally you set the date over a weekend.
  2. You tell all your visitors do not come visit you that weekend.
  3. You start packing a long time before the due date. But you have a lot of other things to do so the packing is really slow.
  4. You are not very worried because you think you can pack things up in the last couple days.
  5. You think you can move everything things Saturday and Sunday will be cleaning things up.
  6. Friday night, you realize your keys does not work. (Half of the team had no access to the new datacenter)
  7. Saturday comes, you start to packing and find a lot of things does not pack nicely into your box. So you start to carry things by hand one by one.
  8. Moving elevator (data pipe) is really slow and eventually breaks down. You have to call your super (admin).
  9. Sunday comes, you are not even half way done and start to panic.
  10. When you are done, you can’t find a lot of things. (For datacenter move, a lot of things does not work.)
  11. You spend a lot of time to change your addresses info all over the place. (This is way harder for datacenter move. Imagine your garage, living room, bed rooms, closet, and even shelves all have their own addresses and they all need to know each other.)
  12. You still got deliveries at your old place. A lot of people did not receive the notice.
  13. You got delivery at your new place and they fell through the floor. (Ah.. this getting less comparable I’m gonna stop)

Because we worked long hours over the weekend, today was actually pretty good today for us. Much less issues than we expected.


Should I post on Sunday?

I said before that I’m going to post here everyday. But for some religious that is a BIG NO NO to work on Sunday. I learned that from this episode in my favorite TV show The Good Wife. Though I’m not religious, I start to ask myself: Would it actually make me produce better quality posts if I refrain myself from post on Sunday or even all weekend? The answer to my question is simply NO. I’m a bad writer and if there is any hope for me to get better I have to write as much as I can.

I actually had to work this weekend. Company is doing some migrations and naturally we had to do it over the weekend when people are not using our system. Most of us do not work or go to school on weekend. The industrial world has a significant 7 day cycle that I image would be very bizarre to an alien observing us from far away galaxy. My theory is that 7 is the largest prime blow 10 and have 7 days in a week is going to be the least boring way to do it.

But work 5 days rest for 2, that is something more recent. I’m from China and back when I was a kid, we go to school 6 days a week and my parents go to work 6 days a week. And one day, the government decides that we should work 5 days every other week instead of 6. For half a year, everything was so confused. We quickly moved to just 5 workdays a week like the rest of the world and quickly. We felt so happy at the beginning  but soon got used to it. Unfortunately for farmers, they still work everyday in the summer because the corps don’t know what is Sunday, they actually need more care when it is Sunnyday. And of course for a lot of service business it is the reverse. They are most busy during weekend when people have time to shopping and do stuff. Except banks here in US. They have so much money, they are closed whenever they can.

So let’s talk about programmers. For us, remote collaboration is pretty common in the industry. All the places I’ve worked at had pretty good WFH (Work from home) policies. And frankly, once requirements is settled, it is much more efficient to work from home with less distractions. When I worked at Microsoft, we have long product cycle and requirements are settled down pretty early. But after I moved to internet related job, the 2 week sprint seems to be most common practice. And requirements changes a lot, I find it benefit more to be physically around peers. We all know Yahoo’s WFH ban. Personally I feel that is a little bit too extreme.

I feel we should ask a harder question: is the 5 workday week a good schedule for computer/IT industry? I have heard of a very interesting proposal that is you work 4 days and 10 hour each day. You come in early and leave late and avoid the bad traffic which also saves you time. But that solution is probably focus more on solve the problem of commuters with kids who have no school on Friday.

What do you think a programmer’s schedule should be? Leave a comment below.


My first blog post. (again)

Hello everyone!

This is my personal blog. And this is my first blog post. If you don’t count my blogs posts at blog.dograzzi.com. And if you do not count the automatically generated “Hello World!” post by word press.

So you ask why I don’t delete that post? Because I’m a programmer — duh! “Hello World!” means something very special for programmers. It’s on Wikipedia so you know it’s legit.

Now you ask why start a blog now in 2014? It is so last decade. Well, one reason is WordPress. I’ve known it for a long time, but only recently start to play with it. Why didn’t I start earlier? I don’t know. Maybe it is because I used to build everything from scratch. Maybe because I thought PHP is too old for me. But after play with it a little bit for host a blog for www.dograzzi.com, I’m really into it. I can easily build a blog site with such amazing speed and beauty. The WordPress community is amazing and going stronger and stronger day by day. If you need anything, there is probably a plugin for that.

Another reason is I suddenly find myself with a lot of things I want to say to the world, even a lot of them are just tech stuff that I rant about maybe nobody cares. I was not like this when I was young. I recall having a lot of trouble to meet the homework essays’ word count requirements when I was a student. I guess I’m getting old. See, I’ve typed 255 words already according to WordPress and I feel I did not even say much.

So I’ll try to post a blog post everyday. I hope I can keep the promise. Well, it should not be hard for the beginning at least.