This blog has been gathering dust for quite a long time, but fear not, for these are good news... they may not be good news for you blog readers that haven't had a mind-blowing article to read in a long time (oh, the unhealthy ego :P), but they are great news for us, because we have been very busy, which made the blog drop to a lower priority for a while. Busy with what you may ask... I can't tell you... not yet... but I can let you in on some miscellaneous stuff that's been happening at Hive.
Luigi, Mario, Berlusconi, Panzerini!
In no particular order of importance, let's start with Panzerini. No, it's not a sandwich, it's a multiplayer artificial intelligence robot battle game. Where's the money in that, you may ask. It ain't in our pockets that's for sure, but that doesn't mean it wasn't worth it.
Long story short, we went on a roadtrip to Lisbon to participate in Sapo Codebits 2010 in the 48 hour programming competition. We needed a nifty Colony demo to use when we officially launch Colony, but we never really had the time to do it, so this seemed like the best opportunity to make a sprint and create one.
The idea was simple. Create an online arena where people can drop robots developed by themselves and watch them fight against other users' robots. The whole project was to be developed in Colony from the ground up, robots would be Colony plugins that could be dragged and dropped into the arena, which would be a simple HTML5 page (no Flash, no Canvas).
With Colony in hand we went on a road trip to Lisbon to participate in the competition, and arrived at the spot, only to find that there were no places to sit down or electrical outlets to power our laptops. This was a great opportunity to honour what sometimes appears to be a Portuguese tradition, and just blame the organization and quit the competition... but we were on a mission! We managed to get access to a small office, inside a garage, got an unprotected wireless network from some neighbour, and started coding.
Fourty-eight hours later, with very little sleep, and after eating a lot of chicken (it was near, it was cheap, and it was the only available food in that restaurant at that time), we had a functional version of Panzerini.
It ended up quite good for the time we invested in it, so we went quite confident for the presentation, only to land on our faces in the end. Turns out the competition was more of a stand-up comedy show, which was a great lesson for us, to remember to always understand the audience first. At the end of the day, every successful interaction is an exchange of value, be it in whatever shape of form. Even if you have something great to offer, it's worthless if it's not valuable to the receiver, and value may take the shape of something as simple as making that person laugh, as was the case of some awarded projects. Regardless, the first three places or so, went to great projects that truly deserved it, and in the end we walked out with a Colony demo in the bag ;).
The Hive Crisis Center
We had a big LCD television stuck in storage for over two years now. We used it in an exposition a long time ago, and never touched it again. After trying to drill holes in the wall, having to change drill bits, making a mess of the whole office, having to run to the electronics store a couple of times, and having to struggle with the TV provider's front-line support to make them come and replace a Set Top Box that was stalled for two years and couldn't update itself because the firmware was too old, we managed to hang the television in one of our walls and turn it into a Corporate TV, with our very own home-brewed company dashboard.
It is now being used to show statistics about the company, like number of commits, upcoming calendar events, ticket status changes, alert messages for when something bad happens, like one of our servers to stop responding, or simply broadcasting a video for everyone to see.
Just imagine how cool it is to have a live dashboard with your company's heartbeat, giving you an applause sound as it tells you are currently the top commiter of the day, or that a bug as just been closed, or to hear the sound of a siren as it alerts you that a server is down. At the very least, it makes you feel like you are working at the Pentagon.
For now I can't tell you much more about what's going on, mainly because I also have get some work done today... I'm sorry... but in case you are disappointed with the few revelations I have done in this post, here's some cuteness overload as compensation:
P.S: This is a photo of Luis Martinho's dog ;).