elmarschraml.com

Occasionally updated personal site and blog

Monthly Archives: September 2011

How to get hosted when couchsurfing

It’s Oktoberfest season in Munich, so I´ve been getting a lot of couchsurfing requests lately, way more than I can, or want to, host.
Also, couchsurfing has gained a lot of popularity and attention lately, so there`s an influx of a huge number of cs newbies, which, unfortunately, leads to a rising percentage of lame requests.

So here’s some tips on how to get hosted – that is, hosted by me, according to my subjective critieria.

1) References, references, references. There’s no better way to show me that you’re a nice guest than having positive previous references. Of course, everybody has to start somewhere, with no references, that is – but why not host people at your place, before asking others to host you? If you have no references at all, I might still host you, but you’ll have to overcome pretty long odds.

2) Read my profile, and show me that you’ve done so. Usually you’ll have to send a few requests until you find a hosts, so it’s perfectly OK to copy-and-paste the same request to multiple hosts – but add a little something that refers to my profile, to show me that you’ve read it. This assures me both that you’ve read and understand what you’re getting into in terms of location, couch and “house rules”, and that you’re not only looking to save money, but also to make a local connection, which makes hosting you more fun for me.

3) Show me who you are. Again, references help a lot here. Getting verified is also good for showing me that you’re a safe guest. At the very least, have a few recognizable pictures, and fill out your profile in a way that shows me what kind of person you are, and what kind of things you like to do. A couchsurfing request that’s a bit longer than two lines also helps. For example, if you’re into good food, experiencing local culture, interested in art or history, or a science nerd, we’ll almost definitely find a common interest, whereas if you want to mostly go out and party, you’re much better off with a different host, because I’ll neither be interested in joing you, nor can I tell you which clubs are good to go to.

4) Show some interest in couchsurfing. I’m happy to help you save hotel money, but I don’t want to be used as a free hotel. Couchsurfing is based on reciprocity and making international connection. Not everybody has the space to host, and you don’t have to get terribly involved, but you should couchsurf because you want to support a good idea and community, not because you heard it’s cheaper than hostels.

Advertisements

Game development, 1986

Found a fascinating read: Jordan mechners development journal from 1986.

Some excerpts:

He spent most of a day trying to get vhs video (taken on a $2000 video camera) into the computer. He ended up photographing every single frame with a photo camera, waiting for the prints to be developed, and then scanning the stills.
Wow.
Today: $150 Flip camcorder, 5 minute usb transfer, done.

Orignially, he planned to have no enemies in the game, since there wasnt enough memory for two figures with different animations.
The enemy was created by xor-ing the hero’s animation, so it was black with a white outline

When he started on it, nobody was sure if by the time it came out there would even be a video games market. Likewise, by the time he was about to finish, the original platform it ran on, the Apple II, was declining, so he needed to port to DOS immediately.

He alternated between goofing off for weeks, and doing nothing but work and sleep.

Back then, games were expected to sell for years, not weeks like now. That prince of persia only started to sell well a few months after its release was perfectly normal back then. By the time he made real money from it, he had already moved on to other projects, switched careers and written it off as a learning experience.

Technology radar, fall 2011 edition

Rising stars:

iOS Development
The iphone is still hot, the iPad is hot and established by now, plus now the mac app store gets Joe Sixpack buying applications on the mac. What’s news is that due to the success of the iphone, even large conservative companies are really starting to realize they need to “do something with mobile”.

Android development
The phones still suck, but it gets used on tablets, ebookreaders,and all kinds of other devices. Two years ago it was “cool, we have an iphone app”, last year it was “of course we have an iphone app”, now it’s increasingly “of course we also have an android app”.

HTML5
Most people talking about HTML5 actually mean ajax web apps. Or “by now we can actually replace desktop apps with web apps”. The most important factor are probably not the new javascript and media APIs, but simply the fact that with IE9, MS finally mostly gets their shit together.

Amazon Web Services
Spot instances, cheaper S3, beanstalk, aws for government – it’s hard to even keep track of all the innovations coming out of amazon. Most enterprises are still extremely suspicious of cloud hosting, but for a start-up it seems almost more unusual not to run on EC2.

Javascript
Seriously. There’s a lot more to it than window.open, and libraries like jquery or extjs make it non-painful to use. It’s not like you have a choice when it comes to client-side scripting (except, more or less, for coffeescript). And the browser is only the most widely deployed platform in the world. Also: quasi-native mobile web apps. Also: node.js for js on the server. Also: Rhino, and, in Java7, invokedynamic, to run js on the JVM. Also: couchdb for js within databases.

Write-offs:

Silverlight
Even Microsoft says Html5 is the future.

Symbian
Duh. Kind of kept alive with government funds, but Nokia finally realized it’s dead.

Google Wave
Already pretty much killed by google by now. Too bad, I kinda liked it.
Flash
In the short run, not going anywhere. But what does the fact that Adobe published an animation tool for Html5 tell you about the long-term future chances of Flash?
Soap/Schema/WS-*
A very long way from dead, since it’s used everywhere in the enterprise. But very few people would willingly use it over REST, and new deployments or standardizations on SOAP are rare. Strange for me to say, since I do a lot of work with Soap, but good riddance.

Question marks:

Erlang
It looked like the next Rails for a moment in 2008 or so, then was not really heard from again. Rule of thumb: languages with weird-looking syntax rarely go mainstream (see also: Lisp). Also: really sucky string handling. But the concurrency stuff is still super neat.

Closure
Finally a Lisp that will spread beyond Lisp fans? I wouldn’t bet on it. Still too many parenthesis for my taste. But seems to gain a lot of traction lately.

Go
Finally a new systems language. Too bad there’s not a whole lot of new OSs being written right now. But seems to spread into non-system applications, like AppEngine web apps.

NoSQL
Is there any web startup that does not use it? But it’s not clear yet if a single one, and which one, and which kind, will dominate.

Git
By far the most prominent DVCS, and the most pure implementation of the DVCS concepts. There’s a lot of submarine projects, like single developers using it locally as a subverson proxy. But will a tool designed by and for kernel hackers go mainstream? I like Git, but it’s using up too much complexity-handling brainpower that I’d rather spend on the code itself.