Life & much, much more

Back in Malaysia, and other things I have dabbled in.

Blog posting has been slow lately. This is mostly due to real life and connectivity issues, but despite this I have had some time to dabble in the various public projects I juggle. The pace is not rapid enough to be able to keep up a alternate-day post like I used to, but is suitable for a summary post, such as this one.

The ThoughtScore Project

The first project is my ever-incomplete ThoughtScore animated movie. The highlight of this update is that there has been an animation update with a few extra shots added. You can view the ThoughtScore Blender animation here, or click the screenshot below.

You may view more feedback on its BlenderArtists forum thread (page 4).

The project also got awarded its own domain with some content I pulled together quickly in about an hour. See ThoughtScore.org.

I do have a couple more scenes prepped and awaiting animation & rendering, so more updates will be popping up.

live.WIPUP

WIPUP, a way to share works in progresses, has experienced the yearly dip in content due to the holiday season, but live.WIPUP (the bleeding-edge iteration of WIPUP) has received experimental design changes and slight SEO updates.

live.WIPUP -like the projects it was built to showcase- is also a work-in-progress. It’s incomplete, but as always, hopefully a step in the right direction. Text link to check out live.WIPUP – share your works in progress here.

Real Life

Apart from badminton, taking a break from learning Chinese, globetrotting, and client work, this picture says it all.

Well, that’s it for a brief summary of what I’ve been up to. I hope everybody have also had a great Christmas, New Year, upcoming Chinese New Year, and awesome holiday.

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WIPUP 11.11.11 released!

WIPUP.org is an open-source web application built for one reason: to show the world what you’re working on.

If you’re impatient, click here to check out the fresh WIPUP.org.

I’m very happy to announce version 11.11.11 being released today. It’s the first non-alpha/beta release, which means that I’m confident that it does what it’s meant to do, and so it’s ripe for the public to use it.

This release’s splash image is created courtesy of Erik Kylen from Blackmaze.

For those who are interested, you can read the release notes here which describe all the new stuff in this release.

I’m very curious to see where WIPUP goes to from here. Being the first non-testing release, it satisfies all of my personal needs for the system. There really isn’t anything else it needs to do. The only ones I can think of is the ability to mark projects as complete, or to download archives of projects, but both of those aren’t necessities.

It’s really been a joy developing WIPUP. I hope other people enjoy using it just as much as I do.

Enjoy the update, and I’m off for the day :)

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WIPUP.org – aiming small

Today I wanted to talk a bit about the birth and objectives of WIPUP – a subject I haven’t really revealed before. WIPUP, for those who aren’t already familiar with it – is an open-source web application I created which allows people to document, share, track, and critique their works-in-progresses, or in short, WIPs.

The project began quite a while back. I had made relatively significant progress on the ThoughtScore project – my hobby animated film, and I wasn’t content with sharing it on the BlenderArtists forum – it seemed very limited and non-specialised for project documentation. I had also had the VisionBin project – a portfolio-generator webapp – running for a few months. My “finished” renders didn’t fit well there either. VisionBin had been running for some time and it wasn’t doing too well – the concept wasn’t differentiated enough and it didn’t perform its task particularly well either (especially in hindsight). I also hadn’t touched programming for a while and was getting a tad rusty.

That’s right – the time was ripe for a new project.

I evaluated the situation and decided that I needed to make a system dedicated to sharing the in-between. Not the mini-projects and small-time creations which forums, blogs, twitters, deviantarts, etc, were fine for, but also not for massive projects which were kept under wraps until they were unveiled – for everybody to enjoy the finished project but disregard the beautiful, hidden, shunned process behind it. I needed to expose this beautiful process. This was the key behind keeping ThoughtScore alive. Turning the arduous learning process behind an impossibly ambitious project into something to be celebrated. This – yes –  this was WIPUP.

As you can see, WIPUP was a very selfish invention. It was a system for myself. I wasn’t interested in communities or distribution. In fact, the first release on WIPUP wasn’t built on the open-source Kohana framework, but instead on a company-tied solution called CodeIgniter, and that WIPUP release was closed-source.

It was only later when I was frustrated with some of the slowly developed aspects of the CI framework did I have a discussion with the folks in the Kohana channel, and WIPUP was half-built did I begin the Eadrax project. The Eadrax project was the open-source rewrite of the then alpha-quality WIPUP under Kohana. That was the time I decided to share this system – and guest WIPs and user accounts were added to the system

During the development of Eadrax, I was exposed to similar projects such as Dribbble, the *bins (temporary WIP hosting), and various others I can’t recall right now. They still didn’t suit me – they lacked flexibility and organisation. For flexibility – most were very oriented towards a very specific format – an image snapshot, a sound upload, etc. None offered the flexibility to have an update to be a simple as a Tweet to the complexity of embedded video and multiple image attachments. I worked on a huge variety of projects and just supporting one but excluding others wasn’t good enough for me. Similarly, for organisation, none seemed to offer any form of proper project categorisation. I needed a way to separate out my work into projects – view my progress as a whole and split within projects. That was how projects in WIPUP were introduced (they were also taken from VisionBin)

Finally – I needed my data to be free. I didn’t want my careful documentation of my personal projects to be lost to a third-party, forever bound within the constraints of their system. I needed to be able to retrieve it however I wanted and format it as I liked. None of those systems were open-source or offered any form of security. WIPUP then turned open-source, and implemented the Open Collaboration Services API, and is now looking towards project export capabilities.

Much more interesting than these dissatisfactions was the realisation that my needs were – perhaps sadly – a rarity. Count the number of people you know who has a hobby where they create stuff which can be shared. Now within that group of people, count the number whose hobbies have sufficiently long-term work-in-progress periods such that it makes sense to document the process. Already we have a very small number of people, if any. Then, out of the remaining few, pick out those who have multiple concurrent projects of varying nature and characteristics. Almost nobody? Perhaps one or two? Finally, single out those who actually want to or can share this process. That’s the killer. Most can’t. Most don’t want to. Perhaps they’re restricted by a group project or by a company. Perhaps it’s such an amazing project they believe it should be kept completely secret. Perhaps they don’t see the point. Perhaps they don’t have time, or are too focused on the finished product.

I then followed through this realisation by testing out if there really were people in everyday life that thought like me. I took the idea brought about by Atlassian – the idea that once in a while, you have a day where a group of people can do whatever they want – hobbies, work, personal, family, whatever – with the single restriction that at the end of the day they shared what they did alongside an enjoyable, informal dinner. They discovered that this 20-80 ruled production and sharing period was mindblowingly useful. So useful until Google took up the same system and did similar with their employees.

So I took the attitude that whatever I did, I should be proud of it. There isn’t any use in doing something you aren’t proud of. I’m not proud of killing time, and so I made it known to people. I worked on what I loved. And then I shared what I loved. Sadly the feedback was less than favourable. People didn’t share the same interest I did in just hearing about things people love – irregardless of field or industry. Extrapolating that – I didn’t find people who wanted to be proud of what they did. They were content with just living. Perhaps I was searching in the wrong place, perhaps I was searching at the wrong time, perhaps I was searching for the wrong signals.

Slowly digesting this information – I realised more and more that WIPUP is built for almost nobody. It was designed for such a niche that the euphemism of the word “niche” (ie. most people simply don’t care) doesn’t apply any more. This brings up a very important thing to consider – what do I want to achieve for WIPUP outside my personal wants and needs?

In WIPUP’s current state, most of the previous users have moved on. Despite being online for a couple years, WIPUP is only home to 150 user accounts, only a handful of which are active (ie. can be counted on your hand), and of those which are active, the majority are people I have known for some time online. There are no advertisments, no total filesize restrictions, completely for free, and recently it seems as though some idiot has written a bot to register an account and insert updates with spam links in them. Development has stalled due to almost all of the features I wanted to include already implemented.

So what exactly, then, is WIPUP’s current objective?

I’m hunting, folks. I’m hunting. More to come.

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WIPUP 22.04.11b released!

WIPUP is a way for you to share your long-term projects and discover the passions of others.

Easter has started, and lots of interesting things are cropping up here and there – one of which is that WIPUP has seen a much-needed update. The last time this happened was way back in November, which is a stunning 5 months ago (yes, that’s almost half a year – doesn’t time fly?).

(Yes, it’s such a cliched and overdone splash screen – click it to read the release notes)

This release, unfortunately, isn’t a big one either. There weren’t any new features added at all, but instead consisted simply of visual polishing here and there to make it a more pleasant system to use and look at.

The reason for such a minor release after all this time is that WIPUP is maturing. WIPUP is aimed at a rather niche group – people who firstly are working on a moderate-to-long-term project. That already cuts out the average joe on the street. Then, that project must be something they are able to, and want to, share. That cuts out the majority of company-funded or commercial projects, as well as every person who is uncomfortable with showing work they think is “bad” and “incomplete”. WIPUP continues to slice away at the market by aiming at those who are comfortable with using a third-party system to host it, rather than their own setup, even though WIPUP is open-source and has an API.

For this niche, it satisfies all of its needs.

This niche – of which the target audience is (rather selfishly) myself.

Yes. You read that right. WIPUP was created for myself. If other people find it useful, then that’s great for them too. But all in all, I created this tool because I needed it. The idea for WIPUP was born by my desire to document the ThoughtScore project – my pet movie – in a more sane way than an increasingly large thread on the BlenderArtists forums. Has it succeeded? Yes. Is it still in use for that? Yes. It’s also used by me to document my work on the KDE.org redesign. It’s also used on my localhost to organise my scraps of work I produce for my architecture course, which will then be compiled into my portfolio.

What is my ambition?

Despite its selfish beginnings, there is a reason WIPUP was made open-source and then added the Open Collaboration Services API. This is because I have an ambition for WIPUP. I want it to be used by the end-users of open-source projects.

People are fascinating. The people who indulge in open-source are even more fascinating, because the average person is passionate enough about a cause like the open-source movement to turn it into their computing life, which is a large element of our lives nowadays. From that, most of you are working on really interesting projects on the side – learning a language, writing a book, composing a song, making a movie. I want WIPUP to exhibit the weird and wonderful of your creations – to emphasise and expose open-source’s greatest strength: the community. I’ve realised that when I threw myself in the wacky world of open-source that I discovered a goldmine of knowledge and passion. I want everybody to realise that too – and be proud of it.

What is your ambition?

Life & much, much more

WIPUP 24.11.10b released!

For the uninitiated, WIPUP is a way to share, critique, and track projects. Or more specifically, works-in-progresses. Us in the open-source community are constantly working on things, and being open-source, we like to share them.

WIPUP was specifically built and tailored towards sharing works-in-progresses – ranging from a twitter-like update, to a fully formatted document complete with images, videos, and pastebin support. With WIPUP’s new FreeDesktop approved OCS (open collaboration services) REST API, it’s one step closer to turning the advanced Linux desktop into a Social Desktop.

Imagine being able to share what you’re working on immediately from KSnapshot, or finding a "Subscribe to this project" or "Track this developer" in Amarok’s About dialog.

It’s completely free to use and (of course) its entire codebase is open-source.

Check out the release notes, and then try it out if you haven’t already!

Life & much, much more

Free public ADOM server available!

As a few people know, I’ve recently gotten myself a VPS. I’m not much of a gamer, but I do enjoy playing certain roguelikes, such as ADOM. Many people are familiar with servers for various MUDs and games such as NetHack, and ADOM isn’t much different. Unfortunately the previous ADOM server seems to have gone MIA, and so I decided to start my own.

So here it is after a week or so of testing and adding new features. It runs on a few shell scripts, and so it was a good opportunity to learn some bash on the way. The features are quite bountiful and it’s been great to play co-op with others, as most roguelikes are traditionally single player. It’s been a great learning experience, and I’m sure others who like playing ADOM would love it too. Suggestions are welcome!

In other news, soon I’ll be able to proudly wear a KOffice t-shirt, we’ve potentially got a new contributor to WIPUP, WIPUP will soon get a lovely REST API and following that, its first CLI app, I’ll be photospamming this blog soon, I’m also now a global moderator on the KDE forums. To finish off, I wanted to share this picture of WIPUP in use:

As you can see, it’s great to watch a project develop and critique it along the way. I hope more people will benefit from WIPUP.

Life & much, much more

WIPUP 23.09.10b released!

Yep, WIPUP, the lightweight, open-source way to share your works-in-progresses just got a lovely update today. It’s a minor update but minor updates are needed sometimes. Check it out here, and read the release notes.

The charming splash screen above was done by me on The GIMP. If enough people like it (just drop me a comment/mail/whatever) I will probably create a tutorial for some of it.

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Hello 4.5, hello ThoughtScore.

KDE 4.5 is out! (Yes, I am a little late) I was really happy to have contributed just that little bit to this release and hopefully that trend continues. Just wanted to say how much I appreciated this DE and to congratulate and thank everybody for their hard work.

Something else that could be interesting for some is an updated ThoughtScore video I found lying around the other day. You can find the low quality version on WIPUP (I do have a large version but will not host it online). It contains some small changes since the last video and I quite enjoy watching it.

In other news, I got my A Level results today (for those not under the British education system, that’s basically the grades that determine my entrance into university) and I’m exceptionally happy with my results. Any suggestions of stuff to buy to celebrate (recommended food is welcome – and big + useless items that catch my fancy win extra points) are welcome.

Sorry for the lack of blog posts. I am actually doing some stuff which can be seen on WIPUP, and some stuff just aren’t blogworthy enough.

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More do, less talk.

I’ve been a busy little bee these few days – you didn’t think WIPUP’s beta release would slow me down eh? Unfortunately for you folks, I like to strike a balance between doing and talking – sure, more talking and doing doesn’t see any results soon, but more do and less talk is just plain selfish. As such, here’s what’s new in Moult county.

Firstly – the the WIPUP beta aftermath. Could’ve hoped for more users, but I’m happy with how people are picking up on it. So far all feedback has been positive, and we’ve picked up a good few members along the way, some of which have become users. Now that I’ve signed WIPUP up on Google Analytics, we’ve got shorter, sweeter reults:

Because I like looking at the results in percentage increases, I’ll let you make your own conclusions this time.

Meanwhile, a few noticed that this release’s splash was not made by me – rather it was contributed by Nathan from Cetan.ca. This means that if anybody wants to contribute splash artwork, I’d be more than willing to use it – provided that it’s abstract, and that it passes as aesthetically pleasing – and of course credits will be duly given.

The ThoughtScore Project has resumed production – and surprisngly to some – not in any graphical area, but rather in the script. I’ve submitted what I’ve started on it as a WIP available here, and once I implement the “paste revisions” idea for WIPUP suggested here, I’ll allow you to actually write parts of it (well, if you really want to – but no promises on accepting them).

I’ve also been, despite sans internet for 2 days in a wonderful place called Bandung (reaaally beautiful if you go to the right places) I’ve also been busy giving back to the community in KDE. We now have a lovely release counter image (demo’ed below), my submission to their KPresenter template contest, and a little progress on the upcoming release announcement for 4.5. Not to mention I’ve also been in the middle of setting up KDE’s site for development on my localhost to tackle “polish” issues, of which you may see some of my critique here.

KDE Countdown

Of course I’ve still been doing part/fulltime work doing webdevelopment (on my 3rd project now wheyhey), and so if you need any webdevelopering done you know who to poke. Also, being in Indonesia also means I’ve been rockin’ with my relatives.

Come on, a post like this with loads of links definitely means I’ve been busy. Excuse the insightful-informative post tradeoff.

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WIPUP 25.07.10 beta released.

What began as a project motivated by the Open Collaboration Services API has really come a long way since it began as a concept submission to KDE’s openDesktop competition. This project was a unique concept for people to share and record what they were working on. Not about showcasing your latest creation – no, rather it is about showcasing the processes behind it: the different ideas, the development, and things that didn’t quite work out in the end. This project is for people who make stuff. People who constantly have ideas bouncing around, juggle their time between various projects and start more than they finish. This project is called WIPUP. WIPUP is a way to conveniently share, critique and track progress on your projects.

WIPUP attained an important milestone today – its beta release. It’s now available for the public to use. WIPUP is a "web 2.0" technology application, to use the cliche term. However more importantly it’s the infrastructure behind and towards a unique Social Desktop tool. For those unfamiliar with what the Social Desktop embodies, allow me to quote:

[The] core idea of the Social Desktop is to connect to your peers in the community, making sharing and exchanging knowledge easier to integrate into applications and the desktop itself. The concept behind the Social Desktop is to bring the power of online communities and group collaboration to desktop applications and the desktop shell itself.

WIPUP is (in terms of this final goal) still in its infancy – there is no desktop client (yet), my plans for KDE integration are still on the drawing board, and no currently existing API implementation. But more important is what does exist, which is the tool – the platform behind all of these future possible interfaces which provides added convenience and flexibility towards any workflow. As such, I’m immensely happy to share this beta with all of you and invite you all to check it out and start using it. WIPUP is also open source and free software – so any interested developers (or anybody wanting to contribute) are welcome to join as well!

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Holiday plans.

This coming Sunday (25th) the first WIPUP beta version will get released. I’ve been working hard to ensure that this first beta truly will be feature-complete and bug-free. I was quite delighted this morning when I found a few Brazillian game developers had tried out WIPUP (and a few of its live-only features succesfully) for an RPG they were making – it was all in Portuguese, but it was a great feeling nonetheless. I hope more people can find use for WIPUP and enjoy using it just as much as I have.

One of the reasons I developed WIPUP was to be used as a long-term infrastructure for myself – a way to log and see my progress through time. A phrase I like to use here is insight through hindsight. This of course means that since this is the first so-called stable release of WIPUP, I’m going to take a break from developing it (desktop clients, APIs and the such will have to wait) and resume my personal, more creative projects.

I’ve spent the past week porting over the remains of The ThoughtScore Project’s original thread on BlenderArtists to the WIPUP Project. I shall spend my time over the next week to pick up all those Blender save files that have spread across my hard disk and get ready to resume work on ThoughtScore.

I’m also starting a new composition. After every composing session I shall snapshot the score and perhaps a short clip of me playing what I’ve got so far. You can check out the WIPUP project for it.

Also if you need a webdev job, you can ask the folks at the company I’m now working for, OmniStudios.

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Reviewing the statistics for WIPUP 27.06.10a.

I decided to delay the statistics-review post for WIPUP 27.06.10a because a recent update to the dashboard now shows view statistics on a daily basis instead of a weekly basis – the results were quite surprising:

As you can see WIPUP is clearly one of our most active projects, with quite a decent kudos:subscriptions:updates ratio compared to the others. However when looking at the activity, we notice something rather interesting – the increase in views is not a sustained increase. It’s a spike whenever there is an update. Looking at my personal WIPSpace we can attribute the initial spike up to almost 200 to the 27.06.10a release itself. The very next day, with no updates, views returned to a pathetic zero.

The even larger spike was quite an oddity. On the 1st of June, one of my less relevant posts (about cooking) was aggregated onto Planet Larry, which sort of explains it (despite a 1 day time lag occuring before the spike) – but further investigation shows that my update about buying the C++ Qt book received a uniqely larger amount of views. I conclude that where the Planet Larry aggregation helped spark some interest, another equally important factor to the spike was that planet readers decided to read what else was on the blog, which was a post which linked to the programming book update – which was obviously a lot more relevant. All the same, very interesting stuff.

An obvious reason behind the non-sustained views is that WIPUP is largly an unknown entity on the web. Hopefully with more updates (which will come!) I can change this behavior into a steady stream.

In relevant news, the upcoming beta of WIPUP is making rapid progress and should be quite a sweet release.

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live.WIPUP now available.

I’ve decided to run a live version of WIPUP alongside the monthly updates and it can be accessed at live.wipup.org. The release announcement can be found here.

I’ve been a busy little bee these few days, starting driving lessons, starting full-time programming work as well as learning C++, and finally finishing my first ever ADOM game. WIPUP’ll be updated regularly with my ongoing projects but hopefully I’ll get a few general articles written for this blog soon. Meanwhile, here’s a really good article I read the other day called The Nerd Handbook.

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WIPUP 27.06.10a released!

It’s super, it’s amazing, and it’s released. It’s WIPUP 27.06.10a. For the uninitiated, WIPUP is a flexible and easy way for people to share, critique, and track works-in-progresses.

To quote some random person, this release truly brings out the “hey, it’s like a working site now“. This release sports super fancy upgrades courtesy of my schedule, which is now free from exams and school. Check out the WIPUP website now, and read the release notes.

Of course it’s also open-source, so not only do we welcome new users, but developers too! This is hopefully the last “alpha” release, so feel free to join.