I made a GB based web app for my grad school project !

So I am taking a course in Web Information Systems which basically deals with new web technologies that help build up web services on the internet (much like Giantbomb). As our design project, we were supposed to build a web application that gets data from two different sources based on a user query and mashes it up together and displays all the information in one place.

The first thing that came to my mind when I started brainstorming about this project was the vague memory of Dave talking about Giantbomb having an API of some sort (I think it was last year or so when that happened). Anyway, a little bit of digging and sure there was this awesome API open to everyone to utilize the entire wealth of information present on this site.

I ended up mashing data from Giantbomb and Amazon.com. As a user, you could enter a search query, say "Batman", and the web app would go through the Giantbomb database and spit out ALL the batman games that have ever been published. The app was customized to grab information like which platforms it was developed on, the list of developers and publishers and the characters in the game. The Amazon API allowed me to show the top 3 search results for each game and their individual prices.

I don't have a hosting server right now for you guys to try it out, but I made a short demo video on Youtube if any of you want to check it out. I'd recommend watching the video fullscreen at 480p to be able to see all the text clearly:

Anyway, I guess I just wanted to thank the Top Men at Giantbomb for being cool enough to write up an API and give everyone access to their database without even charging us anything for this. It's amazing how much information is there on the Giantbomb database, I mean, there is nothing that even comes close on the internet to how much useful data Giantbomb has aggregated over the past few years ! So seriously, Snide and your team of engineers, I say .. great job good sirs. Had a lot of fun working on this project, and hopefully there are a few more good ones coming soon in the pipeline.

As a side note, here's a list of the tech used:
- Django framework for the web app. All code written in Python.
- Backend database was eXist, an XML database
- XML data parsed using lxml python lib

Using the phrase "A steep learning curve" CORRECTLY :)

One of my professors brought up a very interesting point regarding the phrase "Steep learning curve" that is used quite often in videogame terminology. It always pisses him off when he hears people talking about having a hard time due to the "Steep learning curve". According to him, the steepness of the learning curve is actually a measure of how easy it is to learn something. In other words, the shallower a curve, the harder it is to learn that operation. 

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Consider a graph as shown above. The way we measure the "hardness" of learning a particular operation is by judging how well our performance is. The quicker we get to a better performance level, the easier the operation is and vice versa. As you can see, a steep learning curve would mean that we achieve a higher performance quicker and consequently implies that the operation was easy to learn. On the other hand, a shallow curve takes a longer time to get up to speed and thus implies a harder operation. 
So next time you talk about how god damn difficult Super Meat Boy is, remember .. the difficulty curve is shallow, not steep ! 
P.S: The axises of the graph are based on Machine learning conventions. Though I can see a few ways to contradict my own point .. but I'd love to hear your take or counter take on it. 
UPDATE: Holy crap .. and here I thought no one reads a word I post ;)  
Actually, I think I need to clarify a couple of things I wrote above. As you can see in the P.S section of the blog, I was having a discussion about Machine learning where a learning curve IS measured as a graph of performance over time. Of course, this is not the way we use it in general conversation. I think Onno10 hit it on the head with this graph here:  

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If you look at it, both graphs are correct in their own sense. They just show things in a different manner. The measure of performance is inversely proportional to difficulty, so of course the graphs are antithetical to each other ! In mathematics, I guess it's easier to get a measure of performance as compared to getting a measure of difficulty, hence we use the "inverted" graph of a learning curve, so to say. And of course, an assumption being made is that performance is a truer measure of determining how much you have learned. Again, this is open to debate and I am much aware that when someone uses the aforementioned phrase, they are talking about the amount of things to learn versus time, instead of a performance chart.  
It's just a different take on viewing something that we are so used to viewing in a completely opposite manner. I am glad it generated such a discussion. 
Good luck, have Batman ! 
UPDATE 2:  Again, I re-iterate .. the concept of the learning curve above was in the context of machine learning. Performance .. easier to evaluate, Difficulty .. not so much. Hence the inverted y-axis. In our day to day conversation, sure .. difficulty vs time is the accepted norm.  
Also, I do not understand the concept of a wrong Y-axis. It's a graph representation where I choose to represent learning as a function of performance instead of things to learn. Both the graphs work, just that they show things in a different way.

Super Meat boy looks GODDAMN awesome !

God damn .. I can't wait to get my hands on Super Meat Boy ! Though since currently I only have my lapptop at my disposal, I'll have to wait for the November release. DAMMMMMIIIIITTTT ! 

For people in the same boat as I am, head over to NewGrounds and search for Meat boy to play the original game. I'm too lazy to type it in right now, but just google Original Meat boy and you should be able to find the site. It's very similar to Super meat boy (by what I have seen of Super in the quick look), guess I can play that while I wait for the PC release.
I also realised that I have left my PC controller in Toronto, so I am debating whether I should get a new one here. Any recommendations ? I saw a Nyko one on amazon which was pretty highly rated but not sure if it had rumble. The logitech one was closer to 40 bones .. but seemed to be well rated.  
Anyway, bottom line being .. Super meat boy looks awesome ! And even though I know I might not be able to sink in a lot of hours in November for the reason of school sucking up all my time .. I do look forward to a nice December spent hating myself and then hating the game for making me hate myself !

Drunken Rhyme is Danger Close !

I'm not good at Haiku's .. so here's a poem instead: 
Never ending work .. at 4 in the night, 
Weekend's gone .. and still no sight 
of a break, a holiday, a John Labatt's blue,
wasting some noobs on Bad company 2. 
This assignment's so long and hard, 
says the voice inside my head ..  
And right after that, pops up the words, 
That's what she said ! 
A moment to laugh,  at my own stupid joke, 
as I code the next line, with an strTok() .. what ??  
I's 4.20 now, and I just wasted some time, 
writing this stupid blog, to share online ..  
With all my fellow duders, and some dudettes too,
Damn .. I still crave for that John Labatt's blue. 
So till next time, when I write another drunken rhyme, 
To all my friend,s good night, Gang sign <>, peace out, Crime !  
I have nod idea why I wrote that last line .. but hey, it rhymes.  
Take care peoplesss .. 


Just wrote an AI that plays Dots with you

Just finished writing an algorithm that figures out how to play the Dots game with you. Link for the uninitiated ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dots_and_Boxes
Right now, it works for a simple 3 X 3 grid, but damn, it's satisfying to see the computer go toe to toe with you in a game and know that it's your code that runs in the background ! I am working on a GUI now .. maybe polish it up a bit, and who knows, maybe I'll put it  up here and let you fine gentlemen and ladies tell me how much the game sucks :P (it was a more of an extension to an AI assignment honestly). 
In any case, that was how the last 3 days of my life were spent ! Looking forward to the weekend, though there is still work to be had. Wish I had my PS with me so I could play some god damn Medal of Honor (in spite of the reviews .. I guess I still want to play it. Nostalgia .. I presume). But oh well .. I guess I'll just have to make do with playing J'eanne D'arc on my PSP. 
So quick question for the masses, one of the major complaints against Medal of honor (amongst a gazillion other ones), is that it is supremely derivative in it's content. But is being derivative necessarily a bad thing ? What were a few super derivative games that you have played and enjoyed ? For me, the first game that comes to mind would be Darksiders. Really enjoyed it .. despite it being a "dark" Zelda clone.
Peace !


Back on Giantbomb after a hiatus (also, first blog on site!)

Hello fellow Duders,
I have been on and off the forums, but been a regular at the bomb shelter ever since it started. I just got into Grad school and life's been super hectic (but in a good way), so hadn't been on Giantbomb for a couple of months. Came back to see a few things had changed, new subscription model and all. I know I probably won't be able to keep up to date with all the live shows and all, plus I don't really care much about seeing videos in HD .. but hey .. for the entertainment that the guys at Whiskey media have delivered consistently, I'd gladly support the site with my 50 bones ! 
I also have had to part, with an extremely heavy heart, with my Ps3 and Xbox. Couldn't bring it up to school .. sure hope my friends back in Toronto keep good care of my babies !  So to keep myself occupied, I have started building XNA games in my free time (which reminds me, if anyone wants to build Lincoln Force .. lets do it mofo's !!). But damn .. I miss my videogames :( 
So writign a blog at 4.00 on a Sat night .. half sozzled might not be the best idea .. but hey, we don't judge on Giantbomb right ;) Umm .. so yeah, if you have any pointers to the really cool stuff I have been missing out on for the last two months, let me know !  
P.S: I recently checked out the Giantbomb community song created my Hamster and it blew my mind. Awesome work good sir .. I tip my hat to you ! 

Apparently, Claude loves his Wii .. loves his godDAMNWii
Also, to all my Torontonian brothers .. the hell is up with the Leafs ! We beat the Senators 5-1 .. dudddddeee ! I wish I was back home ..  
Peace !