Saturday, 25 January 2014

Crash Course on How to Use a Hashtag

I'm not the ruling authority on how to use or not use hashtags however they were created for a reason. Since the spread of hashtags to Facebook, I am appalled to see its poor usage. So I proclaim to you...

Internet 101: Hashtags


The ideal purpose of a Hashtag is to associate your post with a theme so that it can be searched via a hashtag. Like if I was to say:

"Free bottles of water in Sydney", using standard convention it would be appropriate to tag that post/tweet with #water #Sydney #freebie

That post would not be suited to a hashtag like #imsothirsty or #wasteofmoney .

Really, if you think about it if someone was to search the hastag #wasteofmoney they wouldn't expect to find details about how to get free water. Instead they might be interested about the government's latest stimulus packages.

I guess people won't change using terrible hashtags, but I hope that someone finds this post and changes their ways.


Friday, 3 January 2014

First look at Stonehearth Alpha 1

Due to my relatively large pledge on Kickstarter, when Stonehearth's Alpha came out I was one of the first invited to try it out.

This game was created by a few Silicon Valley developers who decided to quit their jobs and make the game of their dreams (and one of my dreams), Stonehearth . Not to be mixed up with the also emerging game HearthStone, Stonehearth is basically Sim City on AntiSteroids. The shrunk down version has a lot of potential I believe and I can't wait for saving to be added (it's not present in Alpha 1)

I've played around with it for a few days now and am ready to release a verdict and quick review.

First of all, I, and all the developers emphasise that this is a work in progress. Many of the screenshots that I've taken below are bugs (in fact I think all of them are :) )

Before I get into some of the bugs I'd like to thank the developers for aiming (and succeeding) in a December launch. Having it delivered on time means a lot to a player.

The soundtrack and sound effects are great- exactly what I thought they'd be like if not better. The voxel based art is also (dare I say is) cute...

All the foundations are perfected, bugs just need to be squashed - although I know patches are being released almost daily through Steam and Humble Bundle.

One of my favourite aspects of the game is the UI which fits very well. In the screenshots below you can see aspects of it.

Ok. Now onto the bits which I don't like. BUGS. Here I've decided to post a few screenshots and hope that some of the Radiant Crew stumble upon this post and fix them.

However wacky this may seem, the beds seem to be able to form a black hole in between them with glitchy pixels.

 This person also seems to have fallen through a bed

 Documented by the team but further found here, the Stonehearthians love building themselves into corners (or having others build them in for them). This happened very frequently to me as well as the workers walking through walls.




 And finally I'm not sure if I'm doing something wrong but the citizens don't seem to like sleeping in the beds made for them.

Overall, however it's probably one of the best alpha's I've played. As I said before can't wait for save functionality and more features. I'd urge you to hop onboard if you haven't at www.stonehearth.net

Opinions on Codeacademy and the Wrong way of learning

A few months ago I would've wholeheartedly recommended CodeAcademy to any aspiring developer, no matter what language or intention they had.

However nowadays that's all changed for me. I will outline my reasoning later but I really think that CodeAcademy may be good for crash-coursing on syntax, but perhaps no so much on grounding programming concepts into one's mind.

You see, despite how people like Ellen DeGeneres say that they learnt coding overnight through a service like codeacademy. What I don't think that people get is that coding isn't just about learning the theory, it's about applying it. As much as if you can recite an entire Latin dictionary, you aren't necessarily going to be able to translate the Aeneid. Yes it might  will help, but without actually putting your skills into practice it doesn't mean anything.

I've been programming in Python for 3 years now, Web for 3 and Java for just this year and I still haven't mastered any of the languages. Learning a programming language is the same as learning a conversational language- it's not going to be learnt overnight.

Likewise how languages are evolving (for those German speakers out there, the inclusion of many English words - think shoppen), programming languages are too. For example, despite not being formally adopted yet, Python 3 is not backward compatible with 2. This means that if you've rote learned the syntax for 2 you're going to have a bad time when moving onto three. If your learning, however, evolves with the language itself, you're going to be able to adapt to it (and other languages better in the long run.

So to conclude today's rant, Codecademy may be good for syntax and basic programming concepts, but programming isn't all that. It's a blend of that and problem solving- how to do this and that efficiently. Code Golfing is extremely hard for this reason and focuses intensively on problem solving.