Yesterday, I decided to mess around with 3D CSS transforms. I've used them here and there for various things (the flip animations in Shelvi.st, for example) but nothing silly.
My mind wandered back to an early HTML5 canvas demo I saw ages ago where Jacob Seidelin had written Super Mario Kart in JS and I wondered if it would be possible to do the pixel-pushing part of that demo in CSS.
Yes, it's silly. Yes, it's nothing like playing Mario Kart and, no, there isn't any acceleration. That wasn't the point, however. View the source to see the description of the rotations and transforms.
There are many developers who will tell you that blindly copy-pasting is a terrible way to code. They make the valid points that you don't understand something if you don't read it properly and that you'll end up stuck down an algorithmic cul-de-sac with no way to three-point-turn your way out (although they may phrase it differently). These are valid points but...
If I'd sat down on Saturday night and thought "I want to build something in Box2D" then gone to the site, downloaded the library, read the docs and loaded the examples, by the time I had understood what I was doing, Sunday morning would have come round and I'd still have GameJS to read up on. There's absolutely no harm in blindly catapulting yourself a long way down the development track then looking round to see where you are. Sure, you'll end up somewhere unfamiliar and you may end up with absolutely no clue what the code around you does but at least you have something to look at while you figure it out. At least a few times, you'll find something almost works and a quick search of the docs later, you've figured it out and know what it's doing.
Basically, copy-pasting together a simple little demo and making it work is a lot more interesting than taking baby-steps through example code and beginner tutorials. Don't be too careful about trying to build something complicated.
Honestly, I have no idea what I was going for with this one. It started off last weekend with a vague idea about matching patterns of numbers and old-school graphics and I don't know what and ended up with this.
The idea is to make the bottom row match the top row, basically. There are several front-ends to this game so you can choose the style of play you prefer - numbers and letters, waves, colours or a generated sound wave (if you have a shiny new-fangled browser). It uses the nifty little Riffwave library to generate PCM data and push it into an audio element.
If I were to develop this further, I'd try and build it in a modular fashion so that front-ends could be generated really easily and open it to other people to see how many different ways this game could be played. It'd be an interesting social experiment to be able to play what is fundamentally the same game in a dozen different ways. You could find out if visual thinkers processed the information faster than numerical or audio-focused people. Leaderboards could allow different styles of player to compete on the same playing field but with a different ball (hmm, weak sports analogy). The rhythms of the game lend themselves well to generated drum tracks so there's probably something in that area for exploring as well.
At the moment, the code is written as the programming equivalent of stream-of-consciousness – global variables everywhere, some camel-case, some underscored, vague comments sprinkled around. There's some commented-out code for the wave mode that moves the waves closer together so that there's a time-limit set but I felt it didn't suit the game.
Whenever I'm away from home, my usual stream of random ideas tends to become more focused on projects involving sharing. Usually something about creating a connection between people where the interaction point is the Internet. This is what first inspired the now defunct MonkeyTV project back in 2007 or noodler.net in 2008 – both created while I was living in Tokyo as ways to connect to people back in Edinburgh.
Until the beginning of August, I'm in Berlin finding somewhere to live while Jenni and Oskar are in Edinburgh packing up our flat (although, I'm not entirely sure Oskar is doing much more than drooling over packing boxes). The result of this is that I started to wonder about how to best show Jenni some of the flats I'm looking at remotely. What I figured I wanted was a way for us both to be looking at the same web page and for each of us to be able to point out things to the other. I tidied up my idea and posted it to the Made By Ideas site hoping that someone else would run off and make it so I could focus on apartment hunting.
If you install that bookmarklet by draggin’ it to your bookmarks bar then launch it anywhere, your cursor position and how far you've scrolled the page will be sent to anyone else viewing the same page who has also launched it. If you launch it on this page just by clicking it just now, you'll see cursors from other people reading this post who've also clicked it.
It heavily reuses Jeff Kreeftmeijer's multiple user cursor experiment but updated to use socket.io v0.7. I also used the socket.io 'rooms' feature to contain clients to a given window.location.href so that it could be launched on any page and interactions would only appear to users on that same page. I also removed the 'speak' feature to simplify things. I'm planning on talking via Skype when I'm using it. In theory, mouse events other than cursor coordinates and scroll could be shared – keyboard input, clicks, selects.
The day after I built this, Christian Heilmann pointed out on twitter a different solution to the same problem. Browser Mirror uses the same technology (node + websockets) but instead of passing cursor positions, it passes the entire DOM of the page from the instigator's computer to their node relay and then out to any invited viewers. This approach gets round a lot of the problems and is probably a more robust solution, all in all. They also have an integrated chat feature.
The server side is running on a borrowed VPS. It's not even been daemonised using Forever so it might fall over and not come back up. Don't rely on this for anything, just think of it as a point of interest.
I'm not really going to do any further development with it but for interest, here's the node.js server, almost entirely Jeff Kreeftmeijer's work but updated for the latest socket.io