I previously wrote about Baarle-Hertog/Baarle-Nassau, a tiny town in Holland with a few dozen parcels of land belonging to Belgium. International borders run haphazardly through the town, dividing streets and buildings, like so:
Well, it seems that Google maps has Streetviewed all of Holland and none of Belgium, resulting in Streetview stopping and starting at near-random intervals through Baarle-Nassau. My favourite part is that some of the Belgian parts have little parts inside them that belong to Holland. These tiny strips of Dutch land, some no bigger than a front yard, are streetviewed, while the Belgian parts are all cut off.
My company currently makes games for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux.
The first 2 have a good business case. Lots of people run Mac OS X and Windows, and buy games to play. (Thank you to all the customers who keep us small developers alive.)
Linux doesn't have as good a business case for us. Not very many people buy the Linux versions of our games. But, I foresee Linux continuing to grow in leaps and bounds on the desktop. And our codebase is in Java, so it isn't that much extra work to make Linux versions.
Going Mobile The mobile OS wars are warming up fast. In the past we've gotten some scattered requests for PocketPC or Palm versions, but it hasn't seemed worthwhile. Apparently there was good money to be made selling Palm apps in the past, but greedy distributors (hearsay says Handango) and a decaying platform have destroyed it.
J2ME and BREW cellphone apps are making money, but only for a few big companies (at least in North America). The carriers have been very greedy distributors, and locked down their platform tightly.
Apple's iPhone is fresh mobile platform coming on strong. They've publicized their app distribution rate as taking a 30% cut. That's a lot better then most desktop games distributors (Yahoo Games typically takes 70%). Apple has been tremendously successful at iterating the iPod from version1 to perfection. They're following the same process with the iPhone, building a mobile platform from the ground up. I think the iPhone will be one of the long term mobile platform winners.
Google Android is the other mobile platform I'm keeping an eye on. Open-source and available for carriers to build on. Apps are written in the Java language, but using G's own VM and libraries. (A nice end-run around SUN, straight to Java developers.) It hasn't launched on any real phones yet, but I think it has huge potential. The first Android phones are supposed to be available "soon."
You already have a computer in your pocket (your cellphone). The big question for software developers is: what platform is your next one going to run?
I use flickr to publish my photography online. It's a good service, but not perfect. Here are my feature requests to Flickr:
1. On individual photo pages, the meta description and keywords should be about the photo, not about Flickr. Yahoo runs a fricken search engine, you'd think they would get this right.
2. Give me a nice view into the referrer logs. Where are people coming to my photos from? Who's inlining it into webpages? What photos got viewed the most recently? etc. This would be the perfect place to build a Google Analytics competitior.
3. Expand the API to include sets. And keep expanding it from there.
4. Enable HTML links in photo descriptions on my photostream pages when they're showing small photos. Why don't they work here?
Finally, a flickr-related feature request directed to Google: Get an API or scraper set up to read the title, description and tags on flickr photo pages. Then use the info in your Google Image Search algo. I've started searching for images at flickr first now, because experience has shown I often find better images direct from there.
Google Alerts are a good way of tracking things on the internet. Set up a watch on a word and google will tell you whenever it finds a new page using the word. I have some set up for "Sillysoft", "Lux Delux", etc.
Here is my feature requests to google to make their alerts even better: - Let me set domains for my alerts to ignore (to avoid Sillysoft alerts whenever a new sillysoft.net page goes up). - Give me a link in the alert email to report the page as spam or phishing or content theft.