Best of the Web 2006
Our Favorite Discoveries for Programmers

thefreesoundproject

Just came across this very nicely catalogued free (creative commons) sound library website, thefreesoundproject:

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The Freesound Project aims to create a huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps, ... released under the Creative Commons Sampling Plus License. The Freesound Project provides new and interesting ways of accessing these samples, allowing users to
    * browse the sounds in new ways using keywords, a "sounds-like" type of browsing and more
    * up and download sounds to and from the database, under the same creative commons license
    * interact with fellow sound-artists!
We also aim to create an open database of sounds that can also be used for scientific research. Many audio research institutions have trouble finding correctly licensed audio to test their algorithms. Many have voiced this problem, but so far there hasn't been a solution.

http://freesound.iua.upf.edu

(read 2 comments)


Jeff Atwood's Coding Horror Does It Again - The Importance of Simplicity

Last month's site of the month has a great blog entry today about the importance of simplicity:

http://www.codinghorror.c...blog/archives/000529.html


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How to Price a Project - really nice article on doing contracting work

Really nice article on how to come up with a price for a contracting project.

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Today we are going to break an unwritten rule for agencies, we are going to reveal an important page from our playbook on how we price a project. What is somewhat ironic is that we think it's a pretty bad rule, that one of the last things we think anyone should hide from a potential client is how your pricing works.

http://www.blueflavor.com...cks/pricing_a_project.php

(read 1 comment)


Indie Game Devs: Forget It - article

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Indie Game Devs: ‘Forget It’
Developers tell aspiring game makers the ugly truth.
May 10, 2006
A panel of independent developers delivered a sobering reality check to aspiring game creators at the E3 expo in Los Angeles on Wednesday, warning those who harbor dreams of producing a game with a small team and reaping hundreds of millions of dollars from a big deal with Electronic Arts.
“You have a zero percent chance of success,” said Warren Spector, a game industry veteran and the current president of Junction Point Studios, a company that develops games for consoles and PCs. “The barrier to entry in terms of cost, quality required, access to a market… forget it.”


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The Standalone Programmer: Tips from the trenches - nice article for indie coder

From codeproject.com one of the best sites for (windows) programmers.

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The Standalone Programmer: Tips from the trenches
By Matt Gullett
...
I have been the only programmer at my employer for about 3 years now.  I am fortunate that my boss is an ex-programmer and has a good eye for architectural details and big pictures.  However, all of the architecture, design, development, debugging, testing and refining work falls to me.  I do not have a staff to assist with the development, QA or testing so for just about every aspect of development my company needs, I'm on my own.  Many of the projects I have worked on have been very small and accomplished in just a couple of weeks, but others have spanned 3 years and are continuing.
To combat this problem I have been endeavoring to train myself on the best practices and solutions to my problem.  Many of the concepts outlined in the various books can be easily applied to one-man-shows, but others cannot.  As a result I have searched for alternate solutions to the various problems I have encountered.  Most if not all of the solutions I have come up with are not original and many of you will already know what I know and much more.  I decided to write this article in the hopes that it would help some other developers AND that I could obtain feedback from the CP audience on best practices and techniques for success.
...

http://www.codeproject.co.../standaloneprogrammer.asp

(leave a comment)


Bruce Eckel releases some mp3 interviews with luminaries in coding

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Wow this is a pretty serious list of people that bruce eckel (author of thinking in c) just made available for downloading.

http://www.mindviewinc.co...cast/interviews/Index.php

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Web-based logo design companies

If you're site isn't lucky enough to have talented people willing to contribute their time to make the perfect logo, you might consider hiring a company to design a distinctive logo for you.

I thought it might be useful to have a thread where people can post about different logo creating companies.

  • logoworks (http://www.logoworks.com/) seems to be getting some attention lately;  charging $300 and up it's not cheap, but it does sound like they are trying to run a serious and quality service.

    Continue reading the rest of the entry and discuss..

discovered on Continue reading about additional logo design companies..
(read 9 comments)


Creating Passionate Users: Don't give in to feature demands!


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The more successful the product or service is, the stronger the pressure to give in to user requests. The more users you have, the more diverse the requests. One user's must-have-or-else feature is another user's deal-killer. And the more popular your product or service is, the more those requests start turning into demands and ultimatums, and finally very harsh criticisms.

Read the Essay: Creating Passionate Users: Don't give in to feature demands!

(read 3 comments)


When to fix bugs and when to leave well enough alone

"Creating quality software products means knowing when to fix bugs and when to leave well enough alone." Why software developers sometimes ship software with bugs. This is a very interesting and insightful article by the developer Eric Sink:

"The world's six billion people can be divided into two groups: group one, who know why every good software company ships products with known bugs; and group two, who don't. Those in group 1 tend to forget what life was like before our youthful optimism was spoiled by reality. Sometimes we encounter a person in group two, a new hire on the team or a customer, who is shocked that any software company would ship a product before every last bug is fixed.

"Every time Microsoft releases a version of Windows, stories are written about how the open bug count is a five-digit number. People in group two find that interesting. But if you are a software developer, you need to get into group one, where I am. Why would an independent software vendor - like SourceGear - release a product with known bugs? There are several reasons...."


Condensed version: http://technology.guardian.co.uk/weekly/story/0,,1781895,00.html
Full version: http://software.ericsink.com/articles/Four_Questions.html

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Essay: 40 ways to be a better (game) designer

the always good raph koster game design blog.
he also mentions http://www.computerarts.c..._become_a_better_designer

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I’m always looking for ways to become a better game designer. I frequently think I am no good at it, after all. (Just ask in random forums such as Blue’s News or the Fires of Heaven guild forums). So it’s with interest that I read articles like 50 ways to become a better designer.
Much of the list isn’t directly applicable, but some of it is, and it inspires a list of my own, centered around games. Not exhaustive, and probably not even accurate, but stuff I have often helped myself with. Many are cribbed and adapted.

http://www.raphkoster.com...r-game-designer/#more-552

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Programmer Meet Designer Website

Programmer Meet Designer Website - looks interesting and related to the kind of stuff on DC

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This site was created to unite programmers and designers because rarely is a person good at both programming and designing. PMD helps programmers and designers partner up to make websites and web applications that look and work great. It also lets entrepreneurs and writers find people to work with.

How does the site work?
Ok, for example, if you are a programmer looking for a designer to help you with one job, you would create a listing with the appropriate info. Then, designers would come by your listing and if they are interested, they will make an offer. Basically, an offer is them saying "I'd like to do this job". However, they may also have any questions, such as "Do I have to use Photoshop?" or "Can I get paid a little more?". Check your offers once in a while. If you see an offer that you like (i.e. you look at the designers portfolio and you like it), you click "Accept Offer". Then you may choose to trade emails or IM usernames with your partner or use this site for communication.

http://programmermeetdesigner.com/

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What Every Computer Scientist Should Know About Floating-Point Arithmetic

I recently went through some stress when I made the mistake of using floating point numbers to represent DonationCredits on this website.  Here is a LONG article (originally from 1991) on floating point representations, very cool though it's a LOT to take in..

http://docs.sun.com/sourc...06-3568/ncg_goldberg.html

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Floating-point arithmetic is considered an esoteric subject by many people. This is rather surprising because floating-point is ubiquitous in computer systems. Almost every language has a floating-point datatype; computers from PCs to supercomputers have floating-point accelerators; most compilers will be called upon to compile floating-point algorithms from time to time; and virtually every operating system must respond to floating-point exceptions such as overflow. This paper presents a tutorial on those aspects of floating-point that have a direct impact on designers of computer systems.

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Inform 7 - Natural Language Interactive Fiction Game Engine

This sounds pretty damn remarkable. Free as well.  Love to see someone use this to make a game smiley

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Three years in the making, Inform 7 is a radical reinvention of the way interactive fiction is designed, guided both by contemporary work in semantics and by the practical experience of some of the world's best-known writers of IF.

An easily learned but flexible one-window user interface makes the cycle of writing and testing rapid and painless. Inform creates, manages, edits, indexes, tests, and even helps to publish works of IF without fuss or screen clutter.

http://www.inform-fiction.org/I7/Inform%207.html

discovered on waxy.org
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Joel Spolsky's Recent Essays "Opposing" Simplicity

These days we here a lot about keeping things simple in software, in terms of user interfaces (I tend to think of Apple as one of the proponents of this basic approach to design).

Joel Spolsky is one of the best writers about software and his two latest long essays have discussed why this approach isn't always a good idea.  He argues for elegance but against simplicity.  Well worth reading:

On Simplicty - Read here..
On Elegance - Read here..

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Firebug: Web development tools that integrate with Firefox

Here are some cool web development tools that integrate with Firefox. If you develop websites you might what to check them out.

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Firebug integrates with Firefox to put a wealth of development tools at your fingertips while you browse. You can edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page...

Firebug is always just a keystroke away, but it never gets in your way. You can open Firebug in a separate window, or as a bar at the bottom of your browser. Firebug also gives you fine-grained control over which websites you want to enable it for.

Firebug makes it simple to find HTML elements buried deep in the page. Once you've found what you're looking for, Firebug gives you a wealth of information, and lets you edit the HTML live...

http://www.getfirebug.com/

discovered on http://tech.cybernetnews.com
(read 9 comments)


Storytronics: Interactive Story Telling Software

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Do you love stories? Do they excite you, fascinate you, exhilarate you? Have you ever wanted to try to jump right into a story and speak to the people in it? Have you thought about playing the protagonist, letting your feelings and imagination steer the story in new, creative directions?

If you have, then you’ve dreamt of interactive storytelling. And, in that case, you’re not alone - from the Neverending Story to the Star Trek Holodeck, people have created countless depictions of interactive storytelling. It’s hard not to be attracted to it; an artistic medium which offers the rich emotional experience of a story, coupled with the empowerment of actually being the protagonist. We are proud to present the first successful implementation of this appealing idea: Storytronics.

http://www.storytron.com

discovered on http://del.icio.us/
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Do the Simplest Thing That Could Possibly Work

This follows in the spirit of Design One to Throw Away advocates.

From the Wiki page:
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So when I asked [KentBeck], "What's the simplest thing that could possibly work," I wasn't even sure. I wasn't asking, "What do you know would work?" I was asking, "What's possible? What is the simplest thing we could say in code, so that we'll be talking about something that's on the screen, instead of something that's ill-formed in our mind." I was saying, "Once we get something on the screen, we can look at it. If it needs to be more, we can make it more.
...

Wikie Page: http://c2.com/xp/DoTheSim...hatCouldPossiblyWork.html
Original Article: http://www.artima.com/intv/simplest.html

I've had a bit of a gripe with 43 folders lately, but Merlin blogged today a pointer to a wiki page that's really a useful read, advocating for the idea of building the simplest thing that could possibly work, and going from there.

discovered on www.43folders.com
(leave a comment)


Discussion of Game Engines w/Screenshots

Deozaan asks:

Hi everyone. I would like to make a list of game engines as a general resource, but also to start doing (mini) reviews on them. So if you've ever used a game engine, I'd like to know what it is, where to find more information about it, and what your thoughts were about your experience with it. It should also be useful to know how advanced you are as a programmer with the language the engine required you to use.

    Read about the various engines..

(read 36 comments)


Nice blog on rapid game prototyping

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Interested in creating a game in a week? I mean who wouldn’t be. Everybody’s got great ideas for a game. Unfortunately you can’t design fun on paper. So the best way to see if a game is fun to play, is to create the damn game (or at least a playable prototype).
..
I thought I would gather here a little list of articles about rapid game prototyping. These are from very different contexts and there might be some segments in these articles not directly related to rapid development.

http://www.kloonigames.com/blog/

discovered on http://www.raphkoster.com/
(read 1 comment)


Interested in developing an open-source project

Here's a book about that describes practical information about doing just that.

    Continue reading the rest of the entry and discuss..

(read 3 comments)


cambrainhouse.com - crowd-sourced software

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Calgary-based Cambrian House, which launched officially on June 28th, is generating a lot of buzz around its “crowd-sourced software” strategy. The company allows members to submit ideas that could succeed on the Internet, then vote for their favorites. You can also submit code to Cambrian House, much like an open-source project. What’s more, users are awarded Royalty Points for their contributions: if a product is launched commercially and starts making money, you’ll earn a cut.

http://www.cambrianhouse.com/

interesting idea.. sounds tricky to pull off, but interesting.

discovered on mashable.com
(read 2 comments)


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