The Royal Canadian Mint(RCM) has sponsored the MintChip Challenge 2012 in an effort to attract developers to the idea of developing software for the MintChip and giving away their best financial application ideas, basically, for free (on the long-shot that you are one of the few who win).
Starting April 1st, 2012, they began mailing out physical MintChip developer kits for up to 500 contestants (which will likely be an order of magnitude more actual developers involved when you count those who will inevitably work on larger teams).
Since Digital Currencies and related technologies have long been on my radar as a major business opportunity area, as well as a personal interest of mine in terms of how they work, it was only natural to apply for a kit. Today, mine finally arrived!
Contained in the package:
- USB-microSD reader with MintChip software pre-installed
- 2 MintChip MicroSD cards (aka. the MintChips themselves)
- 2 SD-microSD card readers (paired with MintChips; one can act as sender, one as receiver)
- Brief instructions on how to find your $100 balance for each MintChip (but no URLs, of course!)
- The package itself has a punch-out Door Hanger on the back
Yesterday I wrote about the Google API shutdown. It seems that I was wrong in that post about Wordreference not having an API, just a few days earlier founder Michael Kellogg announced the introduction of the brand-spanking new Wordreference API.
Like a dunce I contacted Michael by email to learn about this new revelation without double-checking the site itself (I knew in the past they didn’t have one, as I had checked just a month or so before out of curiosity). It seems that the API was in-development for quite some time, but was rushed out the door on the news of the Google Translate API shutdown. I can easily say that nothing was lost in the final rush, the API is excellent! There are both HTML or JSON versions of the API currently supported and the RESTful URIs make the whole thing quite intuitive to work with.
- A request can be made as follows, to search for the English-to-French translation of “hello world”:
- While the same request with just pure JSON data returned would be:
- For French-to-English, simply use fren as the dictionary, as follows:
- *Don’t forget that you’ll need to append your own WordReference API Key (previously userID) by adding it to each request in the URL path before the return format, dictionary type, or word/term being looked up. You can sign up for your own API Key using the following form:
For now your userID obtained from viewing your profile after registering and logging into the WordReference Forums can still be used, but later the API will switch over to API Keys only.
- Maybe the coolest thing about the API, is that it supports JSONp callbacks, as in the following request:
The CSS presentation styling is extremely minimal, but in the near future I’d consider adding more CSS3 hip features like text-shadows, gradients, transitions/fades and rounded corners. In the meantime, we get this basic CSS:
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What’s wrong with Video Games nowadays?
One of the biggest problems in the Gaming and related industries nowadays is not the lack of hardware or software capabilities, but rather, keeping up with the increasing capabilities in terms of processing power and new technology possibilities. In addition, margins are getting arguably thinner on games, with teams required to be bigger and bigger to ship products out the door on time. The point is though, is that there is always a better way than multiple groups of people separately beating their collective heads against a wall trying to keep up with innovation. The answer lies in open standards.
Who stands to gain from standardization?
Everyone from the consumer down to the MMORPG companies (i.e. Linden with SecondLife, or Blizzard with WoW) to Educators (i.e. Northern Ontario School of Medicine with OpenLabyrinth or the millitary with their infamous adoption of SCORM in desperation to reach a standard for training simulations) to the Game Designers, Creatives & Developers whose jobs would be made easier, to the big-time game production shops (i.e. EA, LucasArts, HB Studios) who could collaborate with their audiences directly to churn out hits at an even faster rate, we’re even talking right down to the console manufacturers themselves (i.e. Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft) would be interested in a standardized solution that enabled them to boast a larger number of titles and higher sales. But the problem is they haven’t the time nor resources to get together and really focus on hashing out the standard (or multiple standards) that would be required to solve the problem(s) they face, and most importantly even agreeing on what their biggest (common) problems are. Hence there remains a lot of waste across each of these industries, and the best we have to look to will continue to be collaborative groups like the W3C, which certainly does have the time to develop interoperable standards to support collaboration. What does this mean?
The platform will eventually be the web, its practically inevitable. This may sound odd at first, but especially when one considers that processing power continues to increase across the board. Heck, I never thought I’d admit it but even Microsoft’s continually improving adherance to such open standards is starting to shine through with their impressive GPU-accelerated HTML5 demos for IE9 Beta.
This should be considered a major win though for the open web in general; what it shows is that the big guys are willing to play with cool new open standards, they just might not necessarily waste all their time and R&D Budget with a risk of winding up on the bleeding edge of a new technology rather than on the “cutting edge”. So its an eternal cat & mouse game, as they try to divide up the larger piece of cheeze amongst themselves and their proprietary consoles. With the right guidance, leadership and grassroots demand they can and will realize the benefits or sharing a lot more of the cheeze in the name of drastically increasing the number of people who incorporate cheeze consuming and making into their daily diets (so much they’d be happy to help bake more, or, at least pay for someone else to make more for them).
A modest proposal
With that lengthy premise out of the way, keep in mind, the following schema is just a first kick at the can for fun, so let’s see what we end up with. What I’d ultimately like it to be is a way of unlocking the complex and seemingly cryptic/exclusive world of game development, for the common man with an idea and some spare time/energy.
This is why I also created a prototype for a new HTML5 online game development studio to go with the new formats.
In fact, it’s a combination of scripts, snippets and one-off functions I’ve picked up from around the web (attribution give where required, and licenses repsected of course) or written myself to solve a particular need and summarizes the 20 most commonly requested features for a website, blog or web application that I have typically been asked to build as a freelancer or software development consultant:
- Flash media
- Web Services
- File Upload
The code is available below:
BC$ = Behavior, Content, Money
The goal of the BC$ project is to raise awareness and make changes with respect to the three pillars of information freedom - Behavior (pursuit of interests and passions), Content (sharing/exchanging ideas in various formats), Money (fairness and accessibility) - bringing to light the fact that:
1. We regularly hand over our browser histories, search histories and daily online activities to companies that want our money, or, to benefit from our use of their services with lucrative ad deals or sales of personal information.
2. We create and/or consume interesting content on their services, but we aren't adequately rewarded for our creative efforts or loyalty.
3. We pay money to be connected online (and possibly also over mobile), yet we lose both time and money by allowing companies to market to us with unsolicited advertisements, irrelevant product offers and unfairly structured service pricing plans.