Archive for the ‘General’ Category

My Strategy for the FlightControl Game for iPhone

Friday, May 8th, 2009

I want to blog more, and this is something that wouldn’t fit in a tweet, so here it goes. These are my tips and tricks for playing the FlightControl game for iPhone. I recently landed over 500 planes in a single game. That puts me in the 99th percentile of players according to their statistics. So… I know what I’m talking about.

I’m going to assume you know the basics of the game. It’s pretty easy. If you don’t, you should just buy the game and give it a try. It is dead simple to learn, a lot of fun, and addicting.

Try to set up flight paths which won’t collide with anything that already has a flight path as soon as possible. If you aren’t certain whether a collision will happen or not, just keep the plane out of trouble temporarily and make a flight plane later.

Don’t think too long on any one thing. Make a decision quickly, and move on. Always keep a watch on the big picture, especially the edges where new planes come in. Don’t focus on one plane, or group of planes for too long because you won’t see the new planes coming in, and they will crash because you haven’t given them a collision-free flight plan.

After playing for a while, you will realize that the slower, non-pink aircraft usually won’t have very much flexibility in their flight plans. Because they are slow, they stay on the screen longer, taking up valuable airspace. So, you usually want to put the slower planes on a straight path to their landing locations, and make the faster ones take less direct routes if they need to go around the slower ones.

I find that the pink airplanes are the main ones I have trouble with. The key is to get them to land as soon as possible. What that means is that you should get the planes to be as close together as possible.

Remember what I said about getting a collision-free flight plan in place for each aircraft as soon as possible? Well, if you do that, it can be difficult to pack them in tightly. So, what you do is adjust. Start from the airplane closest to the runway and adjust its path so that it goes straight in. Take the next closest airplane and make its flight plan shorter, but not so short as to bump into anything.

Since the larger pink planes move faster than the smaller ones, sometimes you can get into trouble where a larger plane and a smaller plane share the same flight path, and the larger catches up with the smaller and crashes. You have to take this into account. It can be helpful to group planes. So, land all the large pink planes one after another, then land the smaller ones. There’s a contradiction here that you have to keep balanced. On the one hand, you want the slower planes to have straighter paths to get them off the screen faster. On the other hand, you want the faster planes to go in before the slower planes since you might have the faster planes run into the slower planes if you did things the other way around. Which strategy you take at which time depends on the positions of the planes and how many planes are currently on the screen.

There you go. There are my tips and tricks for the FlightControl app for iPhone. Hopefully you found these tips useful in your air traffic controling.

Welcome to the Era of Cloud Computing

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008


I declare that we have officially entered the era of cloud computing. Instead of programming directly to operating systems that run on a single machine, we write code that runs on any number of machines. This is a huge shift. Even the web era was usually about a single machine. You had one web server, unless you were a large website, in which case you would have more than one web server behind a load balancer. Even if you had a handful of web servers, you probably still only had one database… as big a machine as you needed to fit your data. Only a few companies needed more than one database. Most companies don’t necessarily need more than one database, but if they suddenly do, there was a lot of work to be done.

Now, with Google App Engine, and (I think) Microsoft’s Azure, you write code, but then don’t know (or care) how many physical machines it actually runs on. This is great because no longer do application developers have to worry about how many machines their are. No longer do developers have to worry about how to scale. Even with Amazon EC2, you have to care about how many machines you have. If you don’t have enough, either you or your software has to detect that and get more machines. You pay per machine per hour, whether or not you are actually using the compute cycles. At least with Google App Engine, the level of granularity is dropped down to the number of compute cycles you use, instead of the number of machines you have.

This is a pretty exciting time. There is a lot of ground to cover still in the area of cloud computing. I think there will be a lot of innovation in the coming years in this area. My next post will talk about the differences between the different clouds. As of now, Amazon has a cloud, Google has a cloud, and Microsoft has a cloud. There are also other less well known companies offering cloud-like services such as Slicehost which was recently bought by Rackspace, Joyent, GoGrid, and Media Temple. There’s even some companies poping up that will offer telephony services in the cloud such as Twilio.

UPDATE: The conversation continues in the comments. Come join us!

What’s Great About On-Demand Internet TV

Monday, July 7th, 2008

You know what’s great about on-demand internet TV? You can link to it!

I was reading a Twitter blog post, which linked to a TechCrunch post, which linked to an episode of The Daily Show which referenced Twitter. Links… its all about links to more information.


Monday, May 26th, 2008

Yahoo Falling

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

Over the last year or two, Yahoo hasn’t been doing so well. Their CEO, Terry Semel, stepped down last year. One of the founders, Jerry Yang, took over and embarked on a 100 day review of the company looking for ways to improve the situation. Recently he announced that they had evaluated priorities and will be laying off a good chunk of employees. Just after Yahoo’s most recent earnings report, Microsoft announced an unsolicited takeover bid. Microsoft is definitely taking advantage of the fact that Yahoo’s stock has recently fallen significantly recently. The offer is more than twice their current stock price making it seem like its a really good offer. We’ll see what happens. Will Yahoo accept the offer? Will Microsoft be able to acquire the company without breaching any laws?

MacWorld 2008

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

I watched the MacWorld 2008 Keynote by Steve Jobs, and frankly wasn’t as impressed as I’ve been by the last few. I guess its hard to follow the announcement of the iPhone.

The MacBook Air is pretty cool, but how much value is there in getting a laptop that small? I consider my current MacBook to be thin and light enough to not worry about it. The screen and keyboard looks to be the same size, so the amount room it takes up hasn’t really changed. The extra multitouch gestures are again cool, but with the current applications, don’t appear to be that useful. Maybe I just don’t use the right applications. Maybe it will enable entirely new applications that we haven’t seen yet. That would be cool.

I think the movie rentals on the Apple TV will be a game changer, especially since you don’t need a computer anymore. But, since I’m a technology guy, I’m not that impressed because I don’t see any new technology here. It’s all about the content deals with the major movie producers. I’ll bet that it was the content deals which was causing Steve Jobs to keep saying that Apple TV was Apple’s hobby project. He couldn’t say anything about what was in the works, so he was putting off the fact that Apple TV wasn’t doing that well.

Time Capsule I think was a smart move for Apple. People really need to backup their stuff. It needs to be really easy to do. I think that adding a hard drive to the home router is a good way to go. I personally don’t need it because I bought a Drobo and hooked it up to the Airport Extreme. So, I have two redundant 500 GB hard drives in there so that if one dies, I don’t  loose any data. So, I can use it not just as backup, but for primary storage.

I bought a Kindle

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Yup… that’s right, I shelled out $400 for an oversize PDA with a black and white screen that has a refresh rate of about once per second.

On the other hand, it has a free wireless internet connection wherever you go, replaces the weight of over 200 books, and has a screen which looks more like a book than a computer screen.

Boeing Factory

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

Last Sunday, I went with my friend Preat, who is working at Boeing this summer, to the Boeing factory in Everett, WA for Family Day. It’s the one day per year where Boeing employees get to take their friends and family into the factory. The building itself is the largest building in the world by volume. They make the 747, 767, 777, and the brand new 787 there. The building was packed with thousands of people. I got to walk under the wings of 3 of the four types of plans, and also got to see two huge cargo planes called Dream Lifters which they use to transport the wings of other plans.

Sign of the Times

Monday, March 5th, 2007

Ban on using an iPod while crossing the street in New York City considered.

Most Annoying Web Advertisement

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

You know those banner ads that are like little flash games, where you have to shoot the ducky, out lift our president, slap the monkey, play dress up, or whatever? Well, straight from that genre, this is quite possibly the most annoying web advertisement I have ever seen. It’s just a mosquito that flies around the screen making a loud obnoxious mosquito like noise with the only ways of stopping it being either zapping the mosquite with your zapper thing (which is actually harder than I thought it would be) or leaving the page.