Tuesday, February 26, 2008


It is interesting how people are more mirrors than light sources.

They reflect on the events than being the source of light itself.

The same person can change totally just by being in a different environment and under different situations.

Can they make up who they are or is it the environment that dictates what they are. (Can't use the word who in this case ... what makes more sense)

Be careful with these super reflective mirrors around you since they can show all things that the surrounding casts at them ... you can be happy with most of these mirrors in a static environment, but don't rely on them to react the same in other situations, just like the mirror on the wall of your room.

A light source on the other hand is always a light source, it even tries its best and is the same source under super bright environments.

Meaning beautifully turned into words in the "Reflection" track of "Tool":

"And in my darkest moment, fetal and weeping.
The moon tells me a secret. my confidant.
As full and bright as I am, this light is not my own
A million light reflections pass over me
Its source is bright and endless.
She resuscitates the hopeless
Without her we are lifeless satellites drifting."

Are we only lifeless satellites drifting in emptiness and reflecting a million lights coming from the source?

I guess we can be something else and let the Moon be like that ....

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Down Times and Wonders ...

One thing which brings me down a lot of times is when I see the wrong path people are going, try to avoid them, and not being able to do anything positive eventually. This happens to me a lot while I witness the progress of the students I teach in classes. Now I don't necessarily mean that I know whats best for people and their optimum paths in life, but in the small domain of education, when people have goals for themselves and they believe in those goals, then helping them move in that direction is a priority for me and not seeing this happen is quite sad. I usually don't feel sorrow for things that are not in my control and happen outside my domain but in this specific issue, I usually think that there are still lots of other things that I can do to have better effects on these people. I often feel that being a teacher is one of the most critical jobs in this world. Thinking that a few moves and reactions might have big consequences on important issues for people is just frightening sometimes. These effects can originate from any person anywhere but the academic domain magnifies it and provides an arena for the possibilities of affecting people.
I'm experiencing some down times currently.
It wasn't long ago that I was a student myself and thought about what teachers do and how they should be and how I can be ideal if I become a teacher one day. How you see all the problems and wrong doings of the teachers and you think you know all the solutions but once you cross the line and start performing from the other side, everyday you see that a lot of these issues are not trivial at all and the more you witness the years go by, the more you feel that maybe what all those teachers did was at last the best thing that can be done and thats how things should be and the reality is far from the ideal visions.
Actually I haven't quite given up in this regard and the above belief has not quite conquered me yet and I'll try to experience and realize my ideal or semi ideal beliefs through academia while I can... there are still more things that can be tried ... although a lot of down times can be generated in this struggle too.

Most of the complexity arises from the fact that you have to deal different with different people and what you do to have positive effects on X has probably negative effects on Y. So it seems like in order to be most effective, you need to ride a spiral and find a dynamic solution to this complex problem. This fact needs solutions that are radically different from what happens in education right now.
One of the main questions here is, should you focus on being best for a specific group or being average for most? Some believe that a good teacher should be the best for all, not focusing on a specific group, I don't agree with this sub-consciously but I'm not sure if I'm right. Sometimes I feel that it is the elite few that need most care and they are the ones that can make things happen and by supporting this group, great things can happen in the world, the energy spent for the common group might not lead to anywhere. At other times I think that maybe this elite group can do good on their own and small effects on the common group can have good effects for the community, since they are the majority. Not sure about the correct answer yet. If there are any correct answers at all.
Another big question is the effect of discipline in education. Should it be used in a strict manner or should the students be rather free and follow a liberal experience in education? To what degree is discipline needed? When is it too much? How much will you lose by not following proper discipline or forcing too much of it? This parameter is one that I've been slanted towards linearly more and more as years go by, I used to think that zero discipline is ideal and the way to go but have believed in it more and more as time goes.

I might have some answers some day ...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Takes my breath away ....

The NBA slam dunk contest has dazzled me every year since '88. The beauty manifestations this year haven't been any less...

Fusion of elegance, power, focus and creativity ...

In a real game it might be just another 2 points in the scoreboard, but is it really? It can cause huge impacts on team momentums, psychological states and overall meaning of the game ...

"I believe they can fly ..... I believe they can touch the sky .... "

Monday, February 18, 2008

Its here !!

Joomex has been launched finally: www.joomex.com
There is a big list of enhancements queued already. This should baseline the CMS/portal requirements here at Fanafzar from now on.
One of the next steps Farshid is thinking about right now is to provide a Flash UI for the portal core.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Looking for Major$ !!

It is interesting how much people believe that there is a relationship between the major you will follow for your university studies and the amount of money you can make in the future. Usually people are worried about what their children will study in terms of the amount of money the will be able to make once they graduate. Well the reality is there is NO relationships between these facts. You can make any amount of money with any major or skill that you have, it is just the type of work and business which you'll get engaged in, any kind of engineering, science or medical studies will not make someone rich just by its nature.

One more piece of advice to fellows looking for the major which makes most money or parents figuring out the best major based on the amount of money their child will be able to make.... leave studying all together and follow something else, studying and getting a college degree will leave you behind in the money chasing race!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Nostaligalanda ....

Three recent articles on Gamasutra threw me deeply into the Nostaliga Land.

The first is an article about the history of gaming platforms and the Apple II computer, this was our first PC in 86, my brothers actually.

The next is an interview with Richard Garriott, the original developer of the Ultima RPG series. We used to play Ultima on the Apple PC with 64 K RAM and 51/4" floppy drives.

The third is the history of Dragon Quest. This was the game on Nintendo Family Computer at around the same time, I followed the Dragon Quest series up to DQ 3, every new release took my breath away for some time and the art work is all done by Akira Toriyama, the artist of Dragon Ball series.

Thanks gama ....

Saturday, February 09, 2008

At your service!

The last session of the architecture class was totally devoted to Service Oriented Architectures.
When you think about the fact that this style is predominantly popular these days in the enterprise application area, something sounds quite not right. The idea in this architectural style is to compose a system using services only and services are units of an atomic process which don't have any interdependencies. An application controller will orchestrate these services and perform and enterprise level task. The strange thing is the shape of this pattern, if we can draw the module dependencies, it would look like a central system which is connected to all these other little boxes around it, no box is connected to any other box, like a fish bone diagram maybe. However most modern applications today, if drawn on paper, would look like these layers of inter connected boxes. Will this enterprise architecture change in the future? It might get much more complex with more complex enterprise needs, just like what has happened to desktop applications. They once used to look like fish bones. And this spiral of architectural styles continues on as we progress in time and need to solve much more complex information related problems. Considering the Vitruvian Triad, SOA is currently providing the "Form" for the required "Function", in the near future, "Fabric" will force some changes into it. This has probably happened to building architectures too, they started with specific forms to support functionality and as time passed, some of them changed to provide better quality (fabric), speaking of fabric, I think aesthetics can be considered a subset of fabric too, it is related to quality anyway, a very subjective quality.

The holy grail of SOA is to be able to create any needed system just by composing the already existing components, hmm.... seems very idealistic, and probably true, but in a very larger scale which we might not reach for a long time, isn't this what has already happened in a smaller scale, we create programs only by composing already existing classes sometimes, or even create programs by composing already existing assembly instructions for the CPU. Its just the fact that our atomic significant unit has to be a service, an enterprise level service. Not so soon.

We are currently experimenting with an idea to be able to provide a controller layer for the service orchestration and choreography on top of a work flow engine to handle the state and tasks, this would be a portal with a service bus embedded in it. Laying a form generator and a report generator tool on top of this cake would make a very delicious application builder that is more like a dream come true for most enterprises at the moment. (kind of like chocolate cheese cake with strawberries ... )

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Lights and Shadows

Phewww... the crunch time is over and we were able to submit the demo for the Otto game on time...thanks to the 24 hours effort shown by the team .... this demo was quite challenging and a big area to play with was dynamic lighting. There is a sun system which uses a directional light, there are full day night cycles so the sun can be at any position, and there are 12 spot lights used as street lights. Setting up the proper light and shadow arrangement is quite challenging and no wonder why static baked shadows are used in many games with few light sources.
After focusing on lights for a long time I begin to admire the beauty of every thing you see daily in the real world. I've found a feeling about how every light source affects the final image that we see using our brains, in the day or in the night....

We need to work on this area a lot more since it is really important in generating the look and feel of the game.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sweeter than SugarCube...

Customer Relationships Management (CRM) has been a hot requirement for the e-business application domains quite for some time now and the number of the clients of Fanafzar looking for CRM systems is increasing everyday.

Most of these clients require the back office CRM features which will be used by the employees, most probably on the local intranet, however they have a few scenarios where the customer will directly interact with the system, usually through a self service portal. Examples for this customer interactions would be online help desks that are integrated with the internal enterprise CRM system.

Being a firm which mostly promotes the open source solutions, we had initiated an integration systems research project code named SugarCube. In this solution the Joomla CMS is integrated with the SugarCRM system. All the back office requirements are provided by SugarCRM and the front end poral is based on Joomla. However, the scenarios which require interactions and communications between these two systems will be designed and the communication protocol between the two is web services using SOAP. The fact that sugarCRM has implemented most of its UI in terms of web services in addition to normal web forms has made this integration quite feasible. The SugarCRM server will be based on the company intranet and it will communicate with the Joomla server on the company internet web server.

The next step for this integration project is using a work flow engine to manage the business processes needed and provide the flexibility for modification of these processes for the enterprise. We've studied JBPM, but some proof of concept prototypes would be necessary before any further design decisions. JBPM being a java based engine would need some web service based wrappers around it to be able to talk to other service providing sub systems, which are mostly PHP based.

Code name was SugarCube since the integration was planned for the XoopsCube portal initially. XoopsCube has got a far better architecture and design structure compared to xoops or joomla open source portal but for practicality, Joomla has been selected for the current project.

SugarCube is coming out of research phase an being implemented for an ISP client these days.

Hope we don't drop it in tea !