From Nothing To Something. How To Get There.

September 22nd, 2009 9:36 AM PDT

This is an interesting read for anyone interested in startups:
http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/09/20/from-nothing-to-something-how-to-get-there/

Article: Alex’s Soapbox: Programming Sucks! Or At Least, It Ought To

March 4th, 2009 4:10 PM PDT
Updated March 4th, 2009 4:11 PM PDT

http://thedailywtf.com/Articles/Programming-Sucks!-Or-At-Least,-It-Ought-To-.aspx

What’s up, doc?

March 4th, 2009 3:11 AM PDT
Updated March 4th, 2009 3:22 AM PDT

I was looking through the user reviews of Pipes Lite on the App Store, and one review caught my attention:

"Rip off" by Ahnt

At first, I didn’t think much of it.  Then I decided to try out Loops of Zen and see if it was true.  I may be biased (OK, let’s be honest, I’m obviously biased), but I believe Pipes is far superior to Loops of Zen.

Let’s break down this review point by point:

  1. “Ahnt” claims that Pipes is a Loops of Zen ripoff
  2. “Ahnt” claims that Pipes is a very bad game

Point 1 is simply a lie.  I originally released the J2ME version of Pipes in April 2006 on GetJar.com.  Loops was developed over two years later in September 2008.  I won’t claim that Pipes was my own original idea, but it certainly isn’t a Loops ripoff.  If I could travel through time, I’d find much better things to do than copy games from the future and give them away or sell them for next to nothing.

Point 1: Destroyed

Point 2, “Pipes is a very bad game,” is obviously more subjective.  I think it’s safe to say, though, that Pipes is at least as good as Loops of Zen.  Let’s compare features:

Pipes

  • 11 board sizes
  • High quality graphics
  • Clear, easily-identifiable puzzle pieces
  • Virtually unlimited random puzzles
  • Personal best times
  • Online leaderboard/best times
  • Piece locking
  • And more
Loops of Zen

  • 1 board size
  • Basic non-offensive graphics
  • Confusing, complex puzzle pieces
  • 24 “levels”
  • No time tracking, online or offline

Again, this point is subjective, but I’m gonna go ahead and say:

Point 2: Put In Its Place

So what?

All of this is interesting enough… or maybe not, depending on your point of view 🙂  But here’s where it gets even better.  I wonder who this “Ahnt” is anyway?  Wait a minute…

According to the App Store, Loops of Zen was developed by Dr. Arend Hintze.  Wait another minute…

Dr. Arend Hintze
Ahnt

Certainly that’s just a coincidence.  Right?  Right? Let’s take a look at some of Ahnt’s other reviews.  All of these reviews come from the App Store in iTunes.  To see them, look up his review of Pipes Lite, then click on the “by Ahnt” link.

Orion’s Belt Lite: 1 star – no comments
WritePad: 1 star – no comments
DizzyBeeFree: 1 star – no comments
Rolando Lite: 1 star – no comments
Fastlane Street Racing Lite: 1 star – no comments
iShoot Lite: 1 star – no comments

Wow, this guy just doesn’t like anything!  Not even iShoot or Fastlane, which I believe have each reached #1 on the App Store in the past (if not for the entire store, then at least #1 within their respective game genres).  I guess I should feel priviliged to even get 2 stars!  Oh, but what did he rate Loops of Zen, you ask?

Loops of Zen Lite (by Dr. Arend Hintze): 5 stars – “…obviously the game-designer listned! [sic] Thank you!”

Well, naturally.  But I wonder…

titriplos (by Dr. Arend Hintze): 5 stars – “This is so much better than most other connect3 games. You have so many options…”
tbamfh (by Dr. Arend Hintze, and no I’m not making these titles up): 5 stars – “What a surprise! I love it….”

Maybe not quite as conclusive as a fingerprint or a DNA sample, but it’s pretty clear to me that the doctor is going around writing bad reviews for all the apps he considers threatening to his own.  Not only that, he’s writing positive reviews for his own games as if he were just another customer in the App Store.

Last, but certainly not least, let’s look at one more of Ahnt’s reviews:

platelets (by Dr. Arend Hintze): 5 stars – “I released a version where I deactivated some collisions, gimme a few days and it will be fixed.”

WOW – most developers would just post that in the app info, but this guy decides to give himself a 5-star review while he’s at it.  Oh, and to completely expose his own little self-review scheme.

I’m flattered that he considers Pipes enough of a threat to go out of his way and actually write up a review.  Um, thanks?  I’m just glad I’m not one of his students!

Pipes Lite released

March 4th, 2009 1:25 AM PDT

Pipes Lite has been relased for the iPhone.  This is a FREE feature-limited version of Pipes.

Pipes 1.4 approved

February 13th, 2009 1:37 PM PDT
Updated February 13th, 2009 1:44 PM PDT

Pipes 1.4 has been approved by Apple, and should be available in the App Store in the next few hours.

Pipes 1.4 submitted to Apple

February 8th, 2009 11:44 PM PDT
Updated February 9th, 2009 12:14 AM PDT
Tutorial Screen Shot

Tutorial Screen Shot

I just submitted Pipes 1.4 to Apple.  If all goes well, it should be on the App Store shortly!

What’s New in Pipes 1.4:

  • Added two new board sizes: Super Insane (48×60) and Mega Insane (56×70)
  • Added piece locking feature
  • Added tutorial on how to play and basic strategies
  • Rewrote graphics engine for much smoother zooming/scrolling on larger board sizes

Technical junk for my fellow iPhone nerds

The most interesting and difficult part of this update for me was the graphics engine rewrite.  Basically I switched from using standard 2-dimensional rendering (based on CoreGraphics) to OpenGL-based rendering.  I suspect that CoreGraphics doesn’t provide much hardware acceleration, while OpenGL obviously does.

I don’t have a benchmark of the old rendering engine handy, but it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15 FPS during a zoom operation on the Insane board size. Using OpenGL, I’m able to get 50-60 FPS on Insane (according to the OpenGL ES tool in Instruments). That’s why I was able to add 2 larger board sizes in this release; my old rendering engine simply couldn’t have handled them adequately.

I’m using a sprite sheet to render all the pipe shapes using a single OpenGL texture.  This optimization completely eliminates texture state switching, which helps to keep things running nice and fast.  Also, I’m building up all the vertex/texture data and then rendering each frame with a single call to glDrawArrays.  I’m sure there are other things that could be done to optimize things even further (probably switching to glDrawElements for starters), but I’m still fairly new to OpenGL, and still learning.  If I find a way to speed things up more, I’ll add at least one even more devious and demented board size to the game.

Article: Interview with an Adware Author

January 30th, 2009 12:31 AM PDT
Updated January 30th, 2009 12:32 AM PDT

I thought this was a pretty interesting article.  It goes into some technical material on the tricks that adware programs use to survive and resist being deleted.  It also made me appreciate my Mac 🙂

Link: Interview with an Adware Author

Mac Software Discovery: Zooom/2

January 22nd, 2009 12:30 AM PDT
Updated January 22nd, 2009 12:49 AM PDT

I just found an awesome program for the Mac called Zooom/2.  This is essentially the combination of two of my favorite Windows utilities, KDE Mouse and allSnap.  Briefly, KDE Mouse lets you move and resize windows without having to position the mouse right over the title bar or resize handles.  AllSnap makes windows stick to the edges of other windows, or the edges of the screen.

Zooom/2 combines these features into one package.  This is especially useful on the Mac because Macs have little tiny resize handles down in the bottom-right corner of every window, and that’s not always the most convenient place for resizing.

I just downloaded the trial version of this program, and so far I think I’m in love 🙂  I’m pretty sure I’ll be spending the $15 to get the full version at the end of the trial period.

If anyone is interested, here are screen shots of my preferences:

Read the rest of this entry »

MichaelKerley.net Launched

January 16th, 2009 4:07 AM PDT

Welcome to MichaelKerley.net, the new home of Pipes, Kornhornio’s California DMV Test, and Kornhornio’s Tetris (and some other new stuff that will be coming soon)!

This new site is intended to be a bit more interactive, so I wanted to get it up and running as early as possible. I’m still in the process of moving everything over from kornhornio.net, so that page will stay around for a while.

Thanks for visiting
– Mike

Pipes 1.2 Released for iPhone

January 16th, 2009 3:15 AM PDT
Updated January 20th, 2009 11:44 AM PDT
New Feature: Online Best Times

New Feature: Online Best Times

Pipes 1.2 has been approved by Apple, and is now available in the App Store!  New features in this release include:

  • Added online leaderboard – compare your best times to other players around the world
  • Added offline “personal best times” – try to beat your best times
  • Redesigned user interface to be consistent with in-game graphical style