Gravity Pilot Review

A friend of mine, Adam Weeks, just released his first iOS game called Gravity Pilot. It’s an simple yet highly addictive game that keeps you coming back for more.

gravitypilot

When you start the game the red block immediately drops from the top of the screen and quickly begins falling toward the bottom. Your goal is to change its direction by tapping at just the right moment so that it graces one of the blue bars without falling off the screen. Each time the red block touches a blue bar, you get a point. If it falls off the screen, you start over.

The game is deceptively hard; I’ve been playing it a lot and my high score is “only” 12 (good luck beating that).

Adam really wanted to add a few more features before launching, but a few of us encouraged him to launch a Minimum Viable Product and get feedback as quickly as possible.

If you’re interested in checking it out you can download it here and if you have any suggestions or ideas you can shoot Adam at a note at @AdamWeeks.

The Innovator’s Dilemma, Facebook, and the Oculus Acquisition

In The Age of Spiritual Machines Ray Kurzweil describes the life cycle of a technology:

We can identify seven distinct stages in the life cycle of a technology.

1. During the precursor stage, the prerequisites of a technology exist, and dreamers may contemplate these elements coming together. We do not, however, regard dreaming to be the same as inventing, even if the dreams are written down. Leonardo da Vinci drew convincing pictures of airplanes and automobiles, but he is not considered to have invented either.

2. The next stage, one highly celebrated in our culture, is invention, a very brief stage, similar in some respects to the process of birth after an extended period of labor. Here the inventor blends curiosity, scientific skills, determination, and usually a measure of showmanship to combine methods in a new way and brings a new technology to life.

3. The next stage is development, during which the invention is protected and supported by doting guardians (who may include the original inventor). Often this stage is more crucial than invention and may involve additional creation that can have greater significance than the invention itself. Many tinkerers had constructed finely handtuned horseless carriages, but it was Henry Ford’s innovation of mass production that enabled the automobile to take root and flourish.

4. The fourth stage is maturity. Although continuing to evolve, the technology now has a life of its own and has become an established part of the community. It may become so interwoven in the fabric of life that it appears to many observers that it will last forever. This creates an interesting drama when the next stage arrives, which I call the stage of the false pretenders.

5. Here an upstart threatens to eclipse the older technology. Its enthusiasts prematurely predict victory. While providing some distinct benefits, the newer technology is found on reflection to be lacking some key element of functionality or quality. When it indeed fails to dislodge the established order, the technology conservatives take this as evidence that the original approach will indeed live forever.

6. This is usually a short-lived victory for the aging technology. Shortly thereafter, another new technology typically does succeed in rendering the original technology to the stage of obsolescence. In this part of the life cycle, the technology lives out its senior years in gradual decline, its original purpose and functionality now subsumed by a more spry competitor.

7. In this stage, which may comprise 5 to 10 percent of a technology’s life cycle, it finally yields to antiquity (as did the horse and buggy, the harpsichord, the vinyl record, and the manual typewriter).

Fred Wilson argues in The Search For The Next Platform that Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus is “Zuck and his team looking up and saying “what’s next?””. Viewed through the lens of Kurzweil’s seven stages, Facebook is at stage 4 (maturity) and Oculus is the potentially disruptive upstart in stage 5. It might seem far-fetched now, but what if Oculus’s virtual reality platform did eventually evolve into a communication platform? Could it threaten Facebook’s current dominance? Maybe. The acquisition then can be seen as part Facebook’s attempt to beat the Innovator’s Dilemma, the tendency of mature companies to lose out to startups by focusing too much on satisfying existing customers and not enough on disruptive new technologies.

Will Facebook succeed and still be relevant in 5-10-20+ years or more? I have no idea, but I can’t wait to see how things play out. :)

New Domains Available to Register

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

Starting today, we have twelve new top-level domains available for WordPress.com users to register. If you’re interested in buying a custom domain name for a new or existing site, you can now register domain names ending in  .com.br , .net.br , .info , .biz , .mobi , .mx , .es , .nl , .be , .fm , .tv , and .in . These domains are available to all of our users — no matter where you are in the world.

With the addition of these new top-level domains, you now have a total of seventeen options to choose from when buying a domain name (including the existing domains .com, .net, .org, .me, and .co.).

If you’re an existing WordPress.com user, you can register one of these new domains for your site by going to Store  My Domains in your dashboard.

If you…

View original 74 more words

Emergence, Artificial Life, and A New Blog

I’m starting a new blog to study and write about emergence and artificial life. It’s called Emergent Mind and you can check it out at EmergentMind.com.

I’ve been interested in these topics for quite some time but have avoided pursuing them because there aren’t a lot of practical short-term applications for that line of study. However, now that I’m happily employed I’m looking for a long-term side project and given that this is something I’ve wanted to learn more about for many years, now seems like a perfect time to start.

What exactly am I talking about? Emergence is the movement from low-level rules to higher-level sophistication. For example, how do the laws of physics result in chemistry, how does chemistry lead to biology, and how does biology lead to intelligence? These last two are particularly interesting to me. As Steven Johnson puts it in his excellent book Emergence:

We all start life as a single-celled organism, and yet by the end of our development cycle, we’re somehow composed of two hundred types of cells, all intricately connected to one another, and all performing stunningly complex tasks. How does an egg somehow know how to build a chicken?

As a software developer I understand how to build a program to perform a certain task. In biology though there is no architect; there is no one overseeing how we are built. Our cells have been programmed by almost four billion years of evolution to do what they need to do to generate you and me. That’s absolutely amazing to me.

What would happen if you tried to simulate that process through software? Could you simulate life? Could you simulate intelligence? What does it even mean for something to be alive or be intelligence? These aren’t easy questions. These topics are what artificial life researchers study and they are what I intended to work on and write about on this new blog.

For my first Emergent Mind project, I implemented Boids in JavaScript. In the future I plan to implement Conway’s Game of Life, 1 and 2-d cellular automata, Richard Dawkins’s Biomorphs, and other artificial life projects. Long term, maybe I’ll be able to come up with some of my own.

With that, I’d like to invite you to check out the first project: Boids in JavaScript.

boids

If you would like to follow the new blog, I set up a feed as well as a newsletter where I’ll send out updates when I release new projects.

If you’re interested in these topics, I’d love to chat: drop me a note.