InstaView Inc!

November 28, 2010

Our team consisted of myself and fellow students Eamonn Tuohy, Diarmaid Haugh, Martin Cahill, and Dave Keane. We began by brainstorming an idea. We each contributed ideas to our list, some practical like a handle that could be fitted with different tool heads (shovel, pick, etc), and some outlandish like velcro equipped self tying shoe laces!

When our list was complete, we picked the three ideas we thought had the most potential profit:

  • A hard drive with a built in screen that shows what files and folders the drive contains.
  • A vacuum sealed coaster which could be attached to the bottom of a glass or cup, and stay on as it was picked up, eliminating the problems of missing/losing coasters
  • A service that would help a person find their phone by making it ring out loud even if it is set to silent.

We performed S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analysis on each idea, and decided on the hard drive screen as the most useful, original and profitable one. We designed the screen to be as simple as possible, just a basic text display with 4 buttons for navigation. This design would:

  • Keep costs down, monochrome text only screen and few buttons is cheap.
  • Make it easier to use, no mass amount of confusing features or buttons.
  • Make it tougher, no fragile physical components like a touchscreen, or complex software prone to failure.

After coming up with the design idea, we produced the following mock up:

This was a very fun project, the collaboration of creativity with my peers was interesting and rewarding. Coming at the problem from a business point of view was worthwhile as well, its not necessarily “is this good” but more “will this sell”. Overall it was a great experience that will serve me well in the future.

For further information, please see the following presentation of idea and company business plan:

instaview-inc

business-plan

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Unit Operations

November 23, 2010

Ian Bogost refers to “discrete interlocking units of expressive meaning” as unit operations.

If that sounds confusing, you aren’t alone! It took me a while to wrap my head around this concept. The idea, as I understand it, is that a unit is a bite size piece of our modern culture. Multiple units can “snap together” as it were, to form new and interesting cultural experiences.

A concrete example of this rather abstract theory would be the film “Scott Pilgrim Vs The World”. I say film, but it actually started as a series of books. In either case, the storyline is absolutely packed with references and symbolism from video games such as Tetris and Zelda. So Scott Pilgrim is a unit of culture, which references other units such as the games mentioned. The film referenced the book. And to come full circle, there was a game released the same time as the movie, which itself is done in an extremely retro style that recalls games from the 80’s.

Some examples of the interlocking cultural units/references:

Mario reference on one of the book covers.

Sonic references inside the book.

The Scott Pilgrim game (bottom) evokes the style of 80’s games like River City Ransom (top).


A day in the life of a video games reviewer…

November 15, 2010

I joined the community Gamespot.com a few weeks back. During my time there I made a profile, talked to people, had some fun times, had some insults hurled at me too!

I experienced the forums, the customisation tools for my profile, took part in some contests and had some funny/interesting/annoying talks with gamers from all around the world.

I read many reviews and features, both professional and done by the amatuers of the community. I contributed some of my own too, and improved my writing style.

I helped out in the design and development of an XNA game. A small group of people from all over the world are developing it, and I was lucky to give my feedback and advice to help out. It really proved the concept of freelance, open source development done in people’s spare time can work. And of course, if it can work as a hobby it can work as a profession, which was interesting for me to see.

Here is a link to my full report, with a sample “Day In The Life Of A Video Games Reviewer”, enjoy!

MASSIVE


LinkedIn!

November 13, 2010

My profile on LinkedIn

Have a look, hire me if you like 😉


QlikView!

November 13, 2010

While on co-op for Boston Scientific, I worked on a major project to show all the different plant metrics and data in a simple, easy to use interface that employees could access. Each metric had its own app, and the one I was working on was scrap and yield. We were developing these apps using QlikView.

An example of a QlikView App.

I worked away on this project for many weeks. Getting the data, loading into my app, and giving the user logical ways to organise and display this data was the main requirement. I had a basic knowledge of QlikView and was thus able to get most of the basic requirements myself. However, I had trouble implementing some of the more complex formulas and scripting, so I ended up working with QlikView consultants to finish it off.

This project was a massive change of pace from college! Gone was the casual atmosphere, working from my comfy apartment, getting friends to help me out. Instead, I was working from a cubicle in a huge office, working with and getting help from many different colleagues, and working to very important deadlines too. This was no academic exercise, this was a real project, with real requirements, costs and deadlines. This was a bit scary, but a fantastic experience to have! I also got some invaluable experience of business meetings, keeping in touch with the other employees working on the project, and keeping my manager informed of any problems I was having. I definitely feel more confident working with real business projects now, as opposed to my own private ones.


Zork!

November 13, 2010

Another project I completed in the course of my module was creating my own simplistic version of Zork, one of the first text based computer games. I used the programming language C++ to develop my game.

This was my first experience with the C++ language, and I felt somewhat “thrown in at the deep end”! Rather than my previous experience with simple Java programs all in the one class file, I now had a more complicated program with many classes and objects. This was difficult, but extremely fun and interesting to get used to. For the first time, I could see the benefits of Object Orientated Programming. By the end of the project I had a much better understanding of C++ and OOP.

Unlike many of my other projects, for this one I was alone rather than in a team. This presented some new advantages but also challenges. On the one hand, I didn’t need to communicate with other people or manage meeting up. I also didn’t have to worry about anyone else messing up and bringing down MY grade with THEIR incompetence. On the other hand, this meant all the work and responsability rested on my shoulders! While I found it a bit easier in terms of organisation and time management to be on my own, overall it’s better to have a team to help each other out and provide different perspectives.

My game turned out quite well, both in how it played and how it was programmed. It was both fun to play (in my view anyway!), and had some good programming going on in the background.