Where is the famo.us engine going?

I remember 2-3 years ago when I got a link from a friend leading me to this exciting project. A JS framework that allows to render UIs at native speeds in a browser with all the bells and whistles imaginable. There was even an AngularJS integration in the works. Christmas! But I decided to wait to see where this goes before spending a significant amount of effort on it. It wasn’t quite there and betting on this horse seemed too risky.

Today I tried to find out how things developed. To my surprise, it is very difficult to get useful information and the buzz seems to be gone. There hasn’t been much going on in terms of extending the framework, no ready to use components, no proper boilerplate apps, no ecosystem worth mentioning. Is it dying?

One problem that struck me is their unfortunate branding. Try googling “famous”… it’s impossible to find something remotely relevant to the engine. It takes significant effort. Is that on purpose?

While they moved to famous.org and added a bit of documentation for the new features as well as a few “hello worlds”, it struck me that they probably went from being a framework company to a service company. Now my guess is that they need some cash and decided to put their framework to use in client projects. But what’s up with the mouthwatering promises? AngularJS support is also inexisiting in the newest iteration and it’s just completely foggy to see a direction. Their blog is a 404. Bad signs all over the place.

Then I stumbled across this blog post over at telerik.com. It’s from 2015 – but it provides a nice overall view and an explanation for the quietness:

Famous final destination?

Famous is a good citizen, giving its engine and framework away for free. But we all know at a certain point money can’t just be spent. The piper must be paid. Money has to flow back up stream at some point. And the 30+ million dollar question in Famous’s case, is: how will they turn a buck?

From what I can determine, the money making plan is to create an online tool similar to the Flash IDE.

However, I weighted my options for using famous on a small page and decided against it. With so much insecurity revolving around this project, it’s simply not worth the effort to dig deeper. And by mixing other libraries, it’s possible to come close to what famous promised but with more structure and actual resources to use. 

I might revisit it in a few quarters but for now, back in to the fold.

rm -rf social_media*

I am going to delete all my social media accounts in the next few days. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and so forth. Was thinking long and hard about this, but it’s the best way forward. I could just delete all the apps first, but hell, why bother. Time to cut the middle man and continuing defragmentation. Or to put it in more elaborate terms: bye bye bitches. Hehe.

Don’t get me wrong, social media is great for outreach. But I guess I don’t want to reach out. In fact, I had to force myself taking part in this.. It was all cool when I was a bit younger and the concept was new, but being in it for what, 10 years now, I can’t see any value any more. My social media accounts are deserts of stale content and out of date information, so why bother.

I will continue to suggest to business owners to use social media to their advantage. But it’s not for me. I don’t buy into that whole self-marketing bullshit. I’m also not interested in most of what people post over there. Most of it is, in fact, self-marketing. If you’re running a startup it might help to get you some leads and exposure, but .. that’s not really going to turn your business into the machine you want it to be, if you don’t fully lean into creating engaging content. That’s a full time job. Hell, when I learned that there’s that thing called being a “social media influencer” and all the Instagram zombies showing off their sixpacks and training bras, I started to question the entire thing. That was years ago.. didn’t had much time to think about it since, but catched up, luckily. 🙂

I think social media affected my blogging as well. Instead of thinking about topics and writing down my thoughts – mostly for me because who gives a shit, anyways – I ended up having to use that small form factor content format that social media is and .. it’s just not enough room for proper writing.

I know, comparing social media to blogging is comparing apples with oranges. But I only have energy to care about one thing and I sure as hell don’t care about food pictures taken with a crappy phone.

To those who think people will not be able to “find” them anymore: Imagine, if you think you are only in touch with people due to a social network, maybe it’s time to rethink the value proposition on a whole. Like, you know, if someone’s not careing enough to call you up or send you an email, maybe it’s not worth investing more time into this anyways.

To get some oversaturated view on social media, maybe you should watch Black Mirror’s first episode of season 3 🙂 – I know it’s a bit too heavy but.. you know.. never say never *cough*TRUMP*cough*…

As for consuming social media. I noticed that I was following so many people I don’t even know personally and read their stuff wether it makes sense or not. And lately with all the hate boiling up around the Trump thing I have to say, NO, I don’t need that invading my private life 24/7. I have my opinion about this guy (not good) and that’s it. And I sure as hell don’t need the hate bubble surrounding it.

Blogging vs Social Media. I don’t think I would post personal feelings on any social media platform. Simply  because me posting that isn’t me needing input from anyone. Compare it to blogging. When I think back to how many articles I wrote that deeply reflected my belief system. I wouldn’t do that in social media. However, blogging about something like that is completely different. It’s my own realm and even tho it is publicly available, I don’t send 300 people a note instantly that i just figured out something. Like that the Cesar salad is great.  If someone’s at all interested in my life, he or she can get the memo on my blog or ask me in person, without me bothering everyone I ever added that I don’t like friggin’ wireless lightbulbs or enjoy binge watching Netflix series (especially Marvel).

Unfortunately I see that a lot of people moved away from personal blogging to simply dropping fragments of their life on Facebook and twitter. I think this is a sad development.

So long and thanks for all the fish. It wasn’t much more than that.

War for the Overworld

This early access game was on sale on steam after I noticed that Dungeon Keeper 1 was for free on Origin. DK1 is great in so many ways, I played it for a few hours (320×240 or so, ugh) and decided to look around again for a “real spiritual successor”. I already bought “Dungeons” in 2011 but was greatly disappointed. WFTO seemed to be closer to the spirit of DK so I spent the 20 bucks in the super duper deluxe version. LO AND BEHOLD, I was playing it for the entire weekend. Game mechanics are exactly the same, however the atmosphere never really got close but that might be due to nostalgic reasons. It lacks a bit the dark humour and ambiance  of DK but it’s still a great game that has been getting s lot of flak due to bugs for the first few months. 

The only weird thing I encountered was the abrupt ending that seemed to be completely underdeveloped. That was a bit sad. But since the mechanics are so close, it’s a lot of fun and it certainly is way better than “Dungeons”. Means, closer to DK. 

I didn’t encounter any disruptive bugs, just a bit of lag now and then when my dungeons reached a certain size. Taking into account that this game has been funded via Kickstarter and early access and did not have the AAA dev cash, it’s really solid. 

If you liked DK, you will like this one, too. And for the price, it’s a no brainer to give it a try. 

Hue white bulbs: pretty stupid

While testing the HUE system I noticed the following things:

  • The HUE white light bulbs white tone is very nice
  • Nobody at Philips used the bulbs at their own houses and flats before product launch

While I am not a fan of intelligent light bulbs at all (it’s the wrong approach from my perspective but that’s another story), the basic idea is very intriguing. In the case of HUE, I can’t get over the thought that their approach is half baken and as soon as a normal light switch is part of the equation (which it is in 99% of all cases), the concept crumbles less than gracefully and becomes a waste of money. 

These bulbs don’t seem to save the current state locally. So whenever you hit the physical light switch and cycle the power, you end up with the default 100% dimmer value. Not even the base station, the bridge, saves the state or reassigns the last bridge value to the bulb.

I mean, really? Who signed that off? All it would take is saving a few bytes in non volatile memory. That’s it. In essence, they took the most trivial technological interface for humans to date and made practical usability worse than it is to date with normal, “stupid” light bulbs. Do you really think I want to set the bloody dimmer manually every time I turn on the light in the hallway? On my phone? Are you kidding me? And if your answer is: buy Philips light switches.. well, NO. Nope. Certainly not. Why would I spend hundreds of dollars to have a total vendor lock in on such a basic technology level like light? A candle can do this job. 

This, to some extent, shows the struggle the so called IOT has with itself. I am all for disruption and making things smart. But for the love of god, try to use your concept yourself before you push it to market.

Sizing down

Moving is a great opportunity to size down the household to what’s really necessary. I moved a month ago and jeez, I got rid of so much trash that was just sitting around the past 5 years. Clothes, cable salad, kitchen ware, tons of paper from when I was self employed. Defragmenting my environment. Feels good. 

Empathise

There’s a pattern that is visible in the design world where people sometimes put their own visions above that of the user or client. As a result, designers complain about uneducated clients or users that don’t get it. Newsflash: not everybody shares your mindset.

I think this is kinda sad, especially because all it takes is a bit of empathy and realising that you don’t design for yourself but for someone else and ultimately a large heterogeneous group of people.

While I had the occasional “client from hell” in the past 15 years, I have always tried to foster close relationships with clients and before I even tried as much as to sketch something up, tried to frame the picture by getting as much information as I can to avoid these outcomes.

I never felt particularly comfortable in the “design community” because it felt disconnected from reality. It felt like designers design for other designers. Spending so much time talking about the theories and hot trends that the basic goal got lost in the process. I never saw myself as an artist. And I still don’t think that someone designing a thing that is supposed to be used by a large group of people should start with any artistic expectations towards himself. It’s not the same thing. Art can leave certain things open, play with expectations, simply ignore them. Design can’t.

I think it’s great to quantify design and UX because it allows for a more rational view and subsequently, decisions. However, that option doesn’t exist always. Either the client doesn’t want to spend the money or you simply don’t have the time to rush that or other reasons don’t allow for it. In those cases, you have to rely on a mix of experience, gut feeling and empathy for the end user. Putting oneself in their shoes, removing fancy designer goggles.

While design is, at the end, more a matter of quantified and explainable processes, your heart should be with the client and the end users while designing. Not with the thing you design. I see this as a conflict of interest. Sometimes I was so sure my design is kick ass just to be vaporised by clashes of taste or simply missing the point. During the past years, I had to create stuff under huge pressure and basically never had time to think about something for too long. That helps to develop a sense to create something that works and can be a first step of an iteration under difficult circumstances.

Design is not self realisation. It’s a trade, a craft. Making tools for other people to work with or create a certain facet of feelings for the viewer.

Battleborn

I rarely get around to gaming these days. But Battleborn was quite the exception. I loved Borderlands, the humour resonates quite well with me. Since Battleborn is roughly based on the same kind of funny dialogue and quirky characters, I was able to connect very quickly.

My brother and I spent hours playing through Borderlands 2 and all the DLC in co-op mode together and it was again fun to do the same in Battleborn’s story mode. It’s not really the same but .. still a lot of fun.

The story mode consists of a couple of missions that are not linear in the sense that you’d need to finish one in order to finish the others. Each one has it’s own map, story and objectives. Only the last mission – the peak of saving the universe – depends on the other missions being done.

Really loved the intro and cut sequences visual style. 80s style sci-fi cartoons.

Can’t get into the whole competitive mode gameplay tho. Just not my thing. There’s always the 12 year old nagging about and spreading utter idiocy.. Don’t need that. Why is there always at least one jerk in a team of 5 players? I could dedicate an entire post alone on that topic. The jerkery in today’s multiplayer games is just extraordinary. Which is why I prefer to play co-op with people I like. Much more fun.

Their end-game is clearly the “MOBA meets FPS” thing. But I hope they come up with a few more co-op missions along the way.

All in all, makes for a couple very funny hours!