YouTube Gaming Launch

 

YouTube Gaming

YouTube launched YouTube Gaming – a YouTube built for gamers.  The blog post describes:

On YouTube, gaming has spawned entirely new genres of videos, from let’s plays, walkthroughs, and speedruns to cooking and music videos. Now, it’s our turn to return the favor with something built just for gamers.

It’s a good thing they mentioned these different genres, because they way I saw it was mostly kids watching other kids playing games.  Apparently, that’s a thing these days (see Twitch, for example).  That’s something I can’t understand with my son – instead of actually playing the games, he is watching other people playing.  What’s that all about?

Alex King Rememberances

I’ve just discovered some sad sad news.  Alex King, one of the bigger people in the WordPress community for years, is fighting a stage 4 cancer battle.  Alex is well known for a few things, most notably for his design of the Share icon, his contributions to WordPress core, and his work as a founder of Crowd Favorite.

I’ve never met Alex or spoke to him directly, but his work is a constant inspiration.  From the early days, when I was promoting WordPress as a flexible platform for web application development, I used his work for powerful examples.  I’ve also built projects using Carrington Core framework.  This blog ran both Carrington Blog and FavePersonal themes for quite some time.  I’ve used Capsule for a while to manage my code snippets and project notes, and I’m sure I’ll use it again.  I’ve used (and still using) quite a few plugins that he was involved with – Social, Twitter Tools, Old Post Alert, Delink Comment Author, and others.  I’ve been an occasional reader of his blog.  And, of course, like anyone else using WordPress, I’ve benefited from his work.

The time has come to return a favor.  Alex is compiling some information about his work and career for his 6 year old daughter to learn more about him.  So if you met Alex, communicated with him, or benefited from his work – take a couple of minutes to share your experience.  He well deserves that.

To Alex: thank you for all your work.  It’s inspirational and educational.  Stay strong!

Efficient Image Resizing With ImageMagick

ImageMagick is one of my favorite tools ever.  I’ve used for years for a whole lot of different things – from simple image resizing, through animation generation, to palette manipulation.  And still, I don’t really know it that well, so when I see articles like this – “Efficient Image Resizing With ImageMagick“, I get excited.  Not only it gives you a better way of doing things, but it also explains the path of how to get there.  From a simple command like:

convert input.jpg -resize 300 output.jpg

to something as advanced as this:

mogrify \
  -path OUTPUT_PATH \
  -filter Triangle \
  -define filter:support=2 \
  -thumbnail OUTPUT_WIDTH \
  -unsharp 0.25x0.25+8+0.065 \
  -dither None \
  -posterize 136 \
  -quality 82 \
  -define jpeg:fancy-upsampling=off \
  -define png:compression-filter=5 \
  -define png:compression-level=9 \
  -define png:compression-strategy=1 \
  -define png:exclude-chunk=all \
  -interlace none \
  -colorspace sRGB \
  -strip INPUT_PATH

What’s even more exciting is that it looks like this optimization will make its way into WordPress 4.4, together with some other improvements for the responsive images.

Super cool!

How does a relational database work

databases

How does a relational database work” is an excellent (lengthy, technical, but simply written and well explained) article on some of the most important bits inside the relational database.  It’s somewhat of a middle ground between a theoretical database discussion in college and vendor-specific documentation of a database engine.

Though the title of this article is explicit, the aim of this article is NOT to understand how to use a database. Therefore, you should already know how to write a simple join query and basic CRUD queries; otherwise you might not understand this article. This is the only thing you need to know, I’ll explain everything else.

I’ll start with some computer science stuff like time complexity. I know that some of you hate this concept but, without it, you can’t understand the cleverness inside a database. Since it’s a huge topic, I’ll focus on what I think is essential: the way a database handles an SQL query. I’ll only present the basic concepts behind a database so that at the end of the article you’ll have a good idea of what’s happening under the hood.

Whether you are a young programmer or an experienced DBA, I think, you’ll still find something in there which you either didn’t know or didn’t think about in this particular way.   Even if you know all this stuff, it’s a good memory refresher.

Strongly recommended!

Cyprus has lowest crime rate in EU

In Cyprus runs the story covering some criminal statistics of European Union in general, and Cyprus in particular.  There are some analysis to the numbers and some breakdown by type of crime and so on.

If you are visiting Cyprus on holiday, you can be reassured that Cyprus is the safest country in the EU – based on analysis of data from the EU’s statistical office, Eurostat.

[…]

From the site, you can find out that there were 2.3 million crimes recorded in Spain in 2012 (the latest data), 4.4 million in the UK and just 8,000 crimes recorded in Cyprus in the same year.

The bit that caught my eye was the term “recorded crimes”.  As if decreasing the number of recordings is one of the ways to minimize crime rate…

One year at Qobo

Today marks a year since I joined Qobo as a CTO.  And what a year it has been!  On one hand, it flew by like a week.  On the other hand, looking at how much has been done, it feels like a decade.  Here are just a few highlights, in no particular order:

  • Team changes – a few people left, a few people joined.  A gadzillion people were interviewed, met, and even worked with on a project basis.  Those who are in the office now have also grown and got better both individually and as a team.  I’m always excited to see change in people.
  • Technology focus – a variety of technologies from earlier company history were consolidated into fewer, but better solutions.  We are a PHP shop now, with solid expertise in WordPress, CakePHP, and SugarCRM.  Focusing on fewer technologies allowed us to gain deeper knowledge and to perfect our tools.  Which leads me to the next point …
  • Open Source Software.  I’ve been a fan and an advocate for Open Source Software for years.  But it was always difficult to push it in the corporate world.  I got better with it at each previous work place, and Open Source grew up with years too.  But it wasn’t until Qobo that I got to the level that I wanted.  Have a look at our GitHub profile – there are forks of projects that we contribute to (mostly third-party WordPress plugins), our project templates, experiments, and tools.  And we are far from done yet.
  • Hosting consolidation and the cloud.  When I joined a year ago, the company was using a variety of hosting companies around the world.  While that provided an immediate base for some of the platforms in use, it was somewhat difficult to manage.  Since then, we’ve moved everything to Amazon Virtual Private Cloud.  We use quite a bit of the AWS stack, mainly – VPC, EC2, Route53, and S3.  And it works great for us!
  • Deployment automation, quality assurance, monitoring, etc.  We’ve built (yet again) and (finally) Open Sourced our deployment automation tools.   I’ve built this kind of tools before, but I was never quite happy with them, and I had to reiterate again and again.  Finally, we have something that works quite well.  There’s always room for improvement, of course, but it served us well for a few month now.
  • Projects, projects, projects.  We’ve worked on client projects big and small all year round.  And there are quite a few that we are proud of.  The Portfolio page for our website is coming soon too, so we can properly showcase those.
  • Office move.  We’ve moved offices in the shortest possible time,  optimizing and completely restructuring our internal infrastructure.  We are now in better premises with a better setup.  We need less hardware and things are much easier to handle.
  • Podcasts and audio books.  In the last year, I’ve driven over 40,000 kilometers, mostly going back and forth between Limassol and Nicosia.  Most of this time was spent listening to podcasts and audio books, from which I’ve learned a lot and got a billion ideas.

There’s plenty more, of course.  But the most important out of this all, I think, is that I’ve learned a whole lot about a whole lot, I’ve tried plenty of things I wanted to try for a while, and I’ve had a tonne of fun, even though sometimes that meant long nights and no weekends.

It’s been a great year and I hope I’ll have many more like this one.  To all, who were around – a big thank you and please don’t go away.  To those who parted ways – thanks anyway and good luck.  I hope more people get to experience what I’ve experienced this year.

P.S.: And the blog section of our website is coming soon too.  Once it’s up, we’ll keep you all updated on our endeavors through there.

How to Age Gracefully

Found this video in Jason Kottke’s blog:

Good advice all around.  The best one is from the 93 year old:

Don’t listen to other people’s advice.  Nobody knows what the hell they are doing.

Which I’ve heard before in Joe Rogan’s stand up comedy:

You know as much about what life is all about as anybody who’s ever lived ever.