Monday, April 13, 2015

More than 5 years since the last entry

It has been more than 5 years since my last blog. Time just flies. I have been too busy with my first real startup at  Anyway, I released my first version of the Android app to Google Play. You can download it for here. It took me almost 6 months, in my spare time, to create the app. I like the fact that I now can play my favorite game of Xiangqi on my personal phone (Samung Galaxy S5). This app is open source on GitHub.  I have published the source code of my server (C++, mainly), my iOS app (Objective C++), and this latest Android app (Java). Enjoy the app :)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

PlayXiangqi is 10-month old

It has been six month since my last post. I always promised myself to write more often but never really found a good time to do so. Anyway, they say it is better late than never. Since was introduced last year (June 2009), the free service now has all 1.0 versions for three different environments: Desktop, Web, and Mobile (iPhone) - all open source on Google Code The latest release of the iPhone app, namely HOXChess-1.0, which was just released two days ago, is particularly interesting. Even with a small limited screen size of 320 x 480 pixels, I was able to pack more features into it than the other two desktop and web clients. Somehow, I feel that developing for mobile environments really fits me well. My deep background in C/C++ and my particular interests in Linux in the last 10 years really help me to pickup iPhone development skills quickly. To be fair, deep down to the lowest level, every software, small or big, is just a bunch of bits and bytes. Nothing is really complicated. We just have to learn to how to organize and not let them go out of control. Also, I have seen people emphasize too much on programming languages or frameworks that they sometimes forget to focus on developing the features that benefits the end users. Despite the availability of many high-level languages like Java, C#, Python, ActionScript 3.0,... Apple has been able to deliver the best end-user products with purely C and Objective-C. Who says C is only good for low-level and embedded devices?

Continued with my last August post, so far I am pretty happy with While relying on general-purpose, web-oriented hosting sites like certainly saves money ($7 vs. $20), having the flexibility and reliability of a full Linux OS (even though it is virtual) brings me a peace of mind and allows me to focus on tackling the real problems.

Given the older iPhone app NevoChess got 20k downloads in 10 weeks, I am wondering what the new improved version HOXChess could do...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

PlayXiangqi is two month old...

Since, our free online service to play XiangQi (Chinese Chess, 象棋) , first debut in June, it has been a learning experience. First, the site has been hacked a number of times. We had no idea that just having two simple PHP-based forms (for Register and Contact) introduced so many security holes on server. We, obviously, could have seen that coming due to our lack of PHP skills.

The second thing we learned is that a number of people who visit our site have Western Chess background. Knowing that Pieces with Chinese characters present a challenge to XiangQi newcomers, we added the support for Western Pieces in our Flash based web client.

The third thing that came to our attention is that, where we host the web site, is not reliable enough. This is somewhat a surprise. We have seen it went down twice, each lasted about five minutes. Who'd know how many times it has been down without us knowing about it! It is a disappointment that HostMonster did not inform us in any way about the site outages. We thought that we have done enough enough research before choosing where to host our site. Clearly, we did not do enough.

After all things were said and done, we have learned a great deal. It takes a lot of hard work to bring up a good online service. We are still a long way from archiving our goals.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

About this blog...

This is a place where Xiangqi players can discuss ideas how to build the next best Xiangqi (aka. Chinese Chess) online service. My open source project HOXChess is the first step in this direction.