Play Chess and Watch the Computer Work it’s Moves

Not a huge player of chess. But this is chess with a difference.

In this version of chess you play as you would expect, but after you take your go the computer starts to calculate it’s move. Normally when this is happening you wait around, not with the Thinking Machine. Lines start to draw all over the board while the computer calculates 1000’s of possible moves and future plays. You keep playing until you loose, or at least that’s what I do.

The Thinking Machine01

Interesting concept and makes for interesting waiting time. The pieces are not the usual representations and this makes it a little more difficult (I lost my queen because of this). I could not tell you how good a player the computer is because I am crap. I am also not sure what the transparent circles are surrounding the board while you are thinking.

Thinking Machine

Still I think it is worth a look at the Thinking Machine 4 just because it does something that I have not seen before, even if you don’t play a whole game.

“Those traces become a key to the invisible lines of force in the game as well as a window into the spirit of a thinking machine.”

Thinking Machine Homepage

Thinking Machine Homepage

Scrybe the Holy Grail of Web Apps?

scrybe Logoscrybe has just released this “teaser” video for their service that is due for beta release this month. I am impressed. The video gives a walk through of scrybe and it’s features. What impressed me is that there appears to have been some research into the human mind and how to build a web application around our psychology. By that I mean that it appears to be logical and plays on what our brain focus on as far as context and focus. Indeed:

“Scrybe is not an incremental
improvement but a whole paradigm shift in the design of online organizers”.

The video is seven minutes but it is worth the watch (see video below). There is also an eleven minute version.

You know those big diaries or personal organizers that you can get with everything you want and need to plan your life in it? They have the daily, weekly, page views (depending on the model you get). They also feature “to do” lists and yearly planners along with stuff like world times listed. This on-line service is just that only it won’t cost you $100 bucks and weigh you down.

In many ways this is a service that will rival features that can be found in such applications as Google Notebook and Google Calendar. While these two services are related they are separate and not integrated with each other. Scrybe offers this integral relationship and more, I have yet to see a slick, simple yet feature rich application such as described here.

Month ViewThe calendar view is a zoomable interface that you can zoom to the year, month, week and day then out again while remaining in context. The action is smooth and seems to be intuitive. The Weekly views and I assume daily views allow you to click and type entries as well as a powerful drag and drop feature from the “task” list that appears on the right. This was an impressive move that when done placed the task within the time context that it was given in the task list. If you need to extend the time in the view just drag the bar down to the length of time required. This intuitiveness without assumption is excellent as some applications make assumptions based on the action not on the context of the item. Scrybe offers this contextual relevance which will be appreciated by the user.

The task list was also a nice feature in that there is a task list for the day with tasks that can be put off for another day flagged, great for the procrastinator. Lists are also event orientated so you can have multiple lists of tasks that are for one day but are itemised around the context of an event. For example. Today I might have to go to work and there may be a list of tasks for work. I might have a birthday to prepare for tomorrow with tasks that are needed to be done today. That means there are two task lists; one for the birthday and one for work, but they are represented together for the day. They can however be viewed separately within their event, work and birthday. I think this is a way of making sense of the clutter in our brains that we have to contend with everyday, but scrybe breaks this down into manageable components.

You can also import with cut and paste; lists and data from files on your local machine such as Word and Excel. The nice touch is that these items are placed in a task list with check boxes and with context. You can also add notes with a very simple interface with minimal formatting. Simple is good, you don’t want to add to your chaotic life with a “Word” type interface. But I would like to see colour added to the options or a highlighter with different colours. I would find that good for focusing my attention.

The meeting manager is an interesting feature where you can plan a meeting with global parties take into account if they are inTime Zones bed or not. Very intuitive feature that has a nice graphical interface. Currently I use The World Clock – Meeting planner for this. Which is what this is but it is offered in a very nice looking graphical interface and also integrated with the calendar and task list.

“Thought Streams”, nice term isn’t it? Refers to a feature that allows you to collect information in text and pictures for a project or research from the web and puts them into a “stream”. This is much like Google Notebook. The difference is that this data can be supplemented with documents off your own local machine. For example an Excel document with the budget details. The best thing and most attractive feature of this is the presentation of Thought Streamsthe data. It is presented to you with an absolutely stunning newspaper type format with a “mini” view at the bottom and it looks very professional. I am not sure if the average user could pull off what this looks like in the video but if they can then that will be exceptional.

One last feature that made my eyes light up and then smile was the “sync” function. Well it is not the sync that you might be thinking as I was. It “sync’s” with paper! Yup paper, with folding lines… not quite what I had in mind. But clever idea and it works as far as taking it with you. The other area that refers to syncing is the fact that you can use the service offline, make changes that re-sync once you reconnect. There was no mention in the video of how this is accomplished, especially since there are no downloads required, but it does have instructions as to how to do it (there is a difference).

Other features promised:

  • Seamless offline access – without any installations
  • Rich and fast like a desktop
  • Intuitive zoomable calendar views
  • Organize your thoughts with bookmarks, web snippets, images and files
  • To-do lists integrated with your calendar
  • Share and collaborate with friends and co-workers
  • Elegant, compact and handy print formats
  • Easily work across multiple timezones
  • Import and export from other apps easily

I will be interested to see what other features are in this bundle. I would be over-joyed if there were such things as RSS technology and shared documents and contributers.This is a good review for a product that I have not used, based on a video. It is because it is rare that a truly original and new idea comes about. The contextual relevance and intuitive interface make this an item to watch, especially if the video is a clue to what might be in store. Scrybe is offering some solutions to problems that plague other on-line applications in a visually stunning and easy to use way. If you are interested in trying out scrybe then hook up with the beta on their site and leave your details.

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