Archive for the 'jobs' Category

Learning AngularJS

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

We just got a contract job at WemoLab to develop a mobile web app for a sports betting startup called Joust, and after a week or so of deliberations we decided to build the whole thing using an AngularJS-NodeJS-MongoDB combo, pure javascript from end to end.

I have to say AngularJS hasn’t been exactly easy, but there have been several times where I have been surprised finding extremely simple ways to set up certain things, especially when binding event triggered method chains across completely separate scopes. It’s kind of great, even though all those directives are driving me crazy and the learning curve has been steep as hell.

Programming languages are used to create functional worlds. In these worlds, new languages are created to create new worlds within the older ones. They are like stories within stories within stories, except in the case of software all these stories have a life of their own. It is natural to fantasize about a esperanto of programming, or a universal language that could be used to program anything. Today, this language is a dream, but at least in the web, javascript is as close as it gets to being the language of god, and AngularJS, together with NodeJS and a document/json based database solution like MongoDB, are a good reason why.

theBlu.com

Friday, May 31st, 2013

I can’t remember the last time I officially hand crafted a website. To be precise, this is not even a website, it’s just a webpage; I plan to update the rest of the website over the next few weeks, but for now, I feel this is a great first step.

Obviously, my first design goal here is to get visitors to download theBlu, but also to learn about it, to want it, and most importantly, to believe in it as a viable platform to communicate knowledge about biological systems. I think about this branch of digital media as the the simulation of life. And there is also the geographical aspect: mapping the environment where this life occurs. If they manage to simulate life well, computer networks will be the Petri Dish of the future.

And it is also interesting to think about the Darwins of the future, combined perhaps with the Pasteurs of the future and others (of the future too, LoL). Because scale is a controllable variable, in the digital realm, looking into the microscopic drama that unfolds inside a Petri Dish can become a similar experience to sailing across the world’s oceans from Galapagos to Galapagos or whatever. Furthermore, the digital explorer is not limited to just observing and collecting samples, but he or she can control time or even manipulate or create life in a way that in the future will probably be possible in the physical world too, but the big difference is that in the physical world we learn to control nature, when in the digital world (or playground) we figure out how to create something like figure out how to create something like nature.

I don’t want to be all over the place but who cares: so CSS and HTML and Javascript. To me, this combination is as relevant to us as Gutenberg’s printing press. Am I right?

And on that note, looking back in history to the precursors of other media –Étienne Jules Marey and his relation to animation, for example– do you think stuff like theBlu will be faced by the same lens a few hundred years from now? Does it even make sense to think like this today?

theblu

Superfugu: Done

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Ah, we finally finished this monster, an iPad game called Superfugu by WemoLab, the digital studio formerly known as WemoMedia. I can’t really say we finished it, since it seems the very nature of digital games these days is to be in a perpetual state of flux. This makes sense, since the current state of digital media gives producers access to monitor their audiences’ behaviors, permitting for almost immediate reactions to compensate for negative outcomes. This means “I’ll change what you don’t like before you realize you don’t like it”, and it is after all, what cybernetics are about: an uninterrupted correction feedback loop.

I could spend hours comparing my recent experience of making a game with my long term experience of making movies, drawing analogies and postulating conclusions about what makes things work one way or the other, but I will only do this at a personal level next to a bottle of wine with those who are prepared to indulge me. I have never been a big fan of games the way I am a lover of movies or books, but I find the production of them fascinating from the perspective of management science. I’ve learned more lessons on management —and team hierarchy/dynamics— working on a game than ever before, and this includes the time I spent in the crazy social education, innovation and production experiment called the MIT Media Lab.

I first got involved with Superfugu back around September 2012, and I have been working on it full time until today. I am responsible for the User Interface design and implementation (Unity and Ngui, eek), some character designs (especially the urchins, and all the 2D character versions), aspects of the story (and I got to make the intro comic!), the design/implementation of some features like Parent Mode, and supervising the production of important marketing assets like the Superfugu App Icon (by Oscar Award winner Andy Jones and yours truly, based on Anthony Batt‘s idea).

To me this chapter is done, and I can’t wait to see what’s next. Download Superfugu in the App Store if you have an iPad (available May 1st). Then you can tell me what you think.

fugucito

new-superfugu-2

Khan Academy Bots

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

A few months ago, before I got all busy with theBlu, I made a set of robot avatars for the Khan Academy. They are part of the academy’s incentive program. Like in many games, users accumulate points by finishing tasks provided by the system, and these points can then be used to collect badges or upgrade the user’s avatar. The only difference is that in this case the user’s merit is to have learned something, as opposed to having reached a given goal established by the rules of a game.

I think the Khan Academy is a great resource not just for learning. It is also wonderful for refreshing knowledge one once already had. I’ve used it like that a couple of times, and a few other times just to learn about stuff –their explanation of SOPA/PIPA is pretty good– but I haven’t found an opportunity to collect enough points to deserve one of my own avatars in my profile. Maybe one day, I don’t really care. I just hope their incentive program is very successful and a lot of people learn a lot and choose my robots so that the Khan Academy feels inspired to commission me with more drawings, because I love this kind of work.

PS: My illustration set in flickr features full res images of all the robots and some other creatures that didn’t make it into the final selection.

TheBlu in Times Square

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Last month, I worked on the design and implementation of a system to connect mobile phones with a custom version of theBlu client that ran on the NASDAQ screen in Times Square. This was part of a celebration put together on May 4th by Wemo Media to introduce theBlu to the world. If you’d like to see how it went, Wired has published a video covering the event.

After extensive research, I chose JQueryMobile to build the mobile web app. I had never used JQueryMobile before, and I was happy to find it accessible and robust. It’s a good mobile UI framework if you ever need one.

Also, I got my first iPhone to use for development purposes (yeah right). As an all time iPad user, I always thought I would never appreciate an iPhone fully, and for the longest time pretended to be happy with vintage cellphones where texting is a task only possible for people born after 1990, but after half a month of iPhone bliss, I find myself using the iPad a lot less and texting like a superhero, using Instagram like there is no tomorrow and finally having a reasonable replacement for my lost iPod. I’m not too happy with the camera though—I think it’s a bit dumb.



In TheBlu

Monday, March 5th, 2012

The last month and a half I’ve been working with Wemo Media in TheBlu. TheBlu is an unusual mix of social media, peripheral entertainment, virtual marketplace, and crowd-sourced digital studio. It’s a new effort in the ongoing quest to find a functional combination between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. I was called at the end of January to provide Art Direction, and to work on User Interface and User Experience Design. This means I’ve mostly been using good old Illustrator/Photoshop/AfterEffects for mockups and asset deliverables, and Javascript/HTML/CSS for prototyping and implementation. I still have to get my hands on the actual 3D part of the whole thing. I hope it will not take too long.