vineri, 28 decembrie 2012

Tarneeb - New Card Game prospect

Tarneeb was probably inspired by many other Arabic card games, though many different nations throughout the Middle East claim that Tarneeb was created in their respective countries. Historically Tarneeb can be traced back to Bla'd Al Sham, more specifically Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine, however the game seems to have truly flourished only from the early 18th century on.

The game
The aim of tarneeb is to win a set of continuous hands. There are four players in partnerships of two teams. A standard 52 card deck is used, each suit ranking in the usual way from Ace (high) down to two (low). The game is played in a counterclockwise fashion. The teams stay together for all the games of a set. In tarneeb tournament, at the end of a set, the losing team is replaced for the next set.

The two members of each team are seated across each other, often on a table in such a way that no player can see the cards of other players (see seating charting image). Either player of a team may collect the winning tricks.

The first dealer is chosen at random and after each hand the turn to deal passes to the right. The cards are shuffled and cut by the player to the dealer's left, and are all dealt out beginning with player to the dealer's right, one at a time or in groups of thirteen (13), so that everyone has 13 cards.

Tarneeb seating arrangement.

The bidding begins with the first player to the right of the dealer and continues counter-clockwise. It consists of a number of tricks seven or above. A bid of more tricks outranks any bid of fewer tricks.

Each person can bid only once, eliminating the option for a player to raise their bid. In addition, the dealer, who bids last, has the option to match, rather than raise the highest bid.
Some players actually use the option of telling your partner how good are you cards i.e., helpful, not helpful at all.

The objective of the bidding team is to take at least the number of tricks that they bid. The objective of the other team is to hinder the declarer team from reaching their declared bid.

The individual declarer leads to the first trick. Players counterclockwise must follow suit if they can; a player who has no cards of the suit led can play any card. A trick is won by the highest tarneeb (trump) in it, if any. If there are no tarneebs in the trick, the highest card of the suit led wins it. The winner of a trick leads to the next.

Playing exceptions
In some regions, the declarer must start the first trick with his declared tarneeb suit. But in most cases they don't.

Once all thirteen tricks are played, the scores of the two sides are calculated by adding the tricks each side has won. If the declarer team meets or exceed the number of bidded tricks, then they get the number of tricks they have, otherwise, they lose the bid number (subtracted from their score) and the opposing team gets the number of tricks they complete. It is possible, therefore, to have a negative score at some point. The set ends when one of the teams reaches thirty-one (31) and the losing team is replaced for the next set.

A team can win a game by bidding for 13 tricks, but they have to declare it at the bidding time by calling for a "game" (بالدق).
Game strategies

Keep Tarneeb Count: Every player should know how many tarneebs are out and how many are left at any point in the game. This is most crucial for the declarer who should always know how many tarneebs are out.
Tashleeh: If you are the declarer, try to eliminate as many tarneebs from the game as possible.
Ta'leem: If your partner is the declarer and you run out of tarneebs, signal to your partner what suit you want him to follow on the next trick by using a low card of that suit.
Hints: If you want your partner to return the same suite on the next turn, slam the card on the table as you play. Note that this practice is not allowed in some areas and generally frowned upon as not very professional behavior.
Na'f: When you finish a suit, throw the last card with a (flick) which hints your partner. This also is not always allowed.
Second Lowest/Third Highest: for any trick, a good rule of thumb is for the second player to use the lowest card, and the third player to use the highest card.

Java One 2012

If you are Java developer or just a Java enthusiast make sure to watch this keynote where you can find pleothora of hints about the future of java.

Android Interstitial Advertising

How to Make Money with Apps using Interstitial Advertising:
As defined in the Mobile Advertising Glossary, an interstitial is a “mobile ad unit that is inserted into the middle of of a mobile application, typically during menu screens or other natural breaks for the purposes of promoting 3rd party products or services”. In most of todays cases, mobile ad interstitials are used to promote 3rd party applications.
Here is a brief overview of the process any app developer can go through when looking to utilize interstitial advertising to make money with your apps.
  1. What type of advertising will your users engage with? Is your app a game? Is it a weather app? If, for example, you are using interstitial advertising inHow to Make Money with Apps Display Interstitials a game it is likely that ads promoting 3rd party games will perform well. If your app is a weather or resource app, promoting 3rd party games will, most likely, not perform well. Simply put, make an effort understand who your users are and find interstitial advertising that will match their interests, and your content.
  2. Identify what types of interstitial advertising you will utilize in your app(s). The two main types of interstitials are full screen display and full screen video. There are pros and cons to both (see below). If you expect your app sessions to be short, go with display; if you expect app sessions to be long, go with video. Or, do both and test effectiveness.
  3. Decide where in your app you will show interstitials. There are endless examples of app developers placing interstitial advertising upon launch of an app. Scenarios do exist where this approach makes sense; such as a desire to push users to your own apps with higher ARPUs. But, when promoting 3rd party apps you are annoying users at the beginning of their engagement with you, potentially sending them somewhere else before they’ve had a chance to spend money in your app, and, they may never come back. The best way to identify when and where to place your interstitial advertising is to review your analytics. If your average user session time is 3 minutes set your interstitial to display after 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Your user is getting ready to leave your app anyway, try to monetize them before they go. App developers should monitor the success of each interstitial placement – if a placement isn’t generating revenue, move it somewhere else. No matter what, don’t place interstitials where they could interrupt game play or another core element of the app experience.
  4. Decide how often to show interstitials. Standard practice is to show an mobile ad interstitial no more than every 3 minutes. We do not have any first hand data to support this, but it is a reasonable assumption that the law of diminishing returns apply here. Your app users will have the highest level of engagement with the first interstitial they see, each subsequent interstitial will have a lower engagement rate. Be careful that your in-session retention rate doesn’t drop faster than your advertising engagement rate. If it does, that could be a sign that the advertising is driving away your users.
  5. Identify ways to reward users for interstitial ad engagement. Given Apple’s ban of incentivized installs, you are not able to reward users with How to Make Money with Apps using Video Interstitialscurrency (or other) in your app for downloading another app – though you can still do this on Android. On iOS, you can reward users with currency (or other) for viewing video advertising. Incentivized installs on Android & rewarded ad engagement on iOS & Android are fantastic ways to reward your users for engaging with advertising and will help you make more money in your apps.
Interstitial advertising is one of the methods that iOS and Android developers can utilize to make money in their apps. If done correctly and with your users in mind, interstitial mobile advertising can provide app developers with a stable source of revenue while providing their users with value in return.
As always, we recommend testing various formats and companies to see which work best with your users and your content.
Pros & Cons of Mobile Interstitial Advertising:
  • eCPM is high. Pay-per-install rates are over $1.00 on average and given a comparably low number of impressions, eCPM’s can be high. Video advertising has average view rates of $.025 – this can add up quickly
  • Compared to banner advertising, interstitial advertising provides you with full screen use for your app = more space for your content
  • Some 3rd parties like, Chartboost, enable you to cross-promote directly with other app publishers providing you with a fantastic way to drive installs of your own apps
  • Ability to reward users: You can reward users with free currency for watching video on iOS or downloading a 3rd party app on Android. Not only does this provide you with a revenue source, but enables you to reward your users for engaging with advertising creating a longer lasting, profitable, relationship
  • Mobile ad interstitials are interruptive, if you display them more often than every 2-3 minutes, your retention rates may decrease
  • Despite higher eCPM’s, mobile ad interstitials do not necessarily generate more revenue than mobile banner ads on aggregate given comparably low impressions
  • Mobile video impressions are typically between 15-30 seconds. That’s a lot of time to ask one of your users to spend viewing an ad within a 3-5 minute app session, especially if they aren’t interested in the content
  • Difficult to find appropriate advertising for your user base: A majority of interstitial advertising and video advertising is for the promotion of 3rd party games. If your user base is not predisposed to games your ability to fill a large percentage of requests with relevant ad inventory may be limited, and your revenue opportunity more so.

joi, 27 decembrie 2012

Seargeant Major - new card game prospect

3-5-8, also known as Sergeant Major for its popularity among members of Britain's Royal Air Force, is a trick taking card game for 3 players, using a standard 52 card deck. 3-5-8 may be played as a gambling game, or not, and there are many variations with names like "8-5-3" and "9-5-2" played throughout the world.

Players and Cards

Sergeant Major is a trick taking game for 3 players, using a standard 52 card pack. It is played clockwise.

Object of the Game

The aim is to win as many tricks as possible. If a player succeeds in winning 12 or more tricks in one hand, the game ends and that player wins.
Deal and Card Exchange (first hand)

The first dealer is chosen at random. The cards are shuffled, cut and then dealt singly, 16 to each player. The last four undealt cards are placed face down on the table to form a kitty. The dealer names a suit as trumps (clubs, spades, hearts or diamonds - "no trump" is not allowed), discards any four cards face down, and takes the four undealt cards from the kitty in their place.
The Play

The player to dealer's left leads any card to the first trick. It is compulsory to follow suit if able to; a player holding no card of the suit led may play any card. Each trick is won by the highest trump it contains, or if there are no trumps in it, by the highest card of the suit led. The winner of each trick leads to the next.

First deal and exchange

Draw cards to determine the first dealer and deal 16 cards to each player, the 4 remaining cards are placed on the table to form a kitty. Dealer names a suit as trump and discards 4 cards from his or her hand before replacing them with the kitty. Some groups allow the dealer to pick up the kitty and add it to his or her hand before discarding any 4 cards of the 20 he or she now has.


Eldest hand leads any card to the first trick and play moves clockwise with each player following suit, or playing any card if unable to follow suit. Each trick is won by the highest trump, or by the highest card of the suit led if no trump card was played to the trick. The winner of each trick leads to the next.

Targets and scoring

Each player has a minimum number of tricks called a target. Targets are determined by each player's seat for that hand as follows:
Eldest hand: 5
Middle hand: 3
Dealer: 8

After all 16 tricks have been played, scores and targets are compared and players who won more tricks than their target are UP by the number of excess tricks, while players who fell short of their target are DOWN by a number of tricks. If players are gambling, up players receive one stake per excess trick won, paid by down player who will have lost by the same number of tricks.

Subsequent deals and exchanges

Deal and targets are passed to the left and the new dealer deals the cards out as before, only now there is an exchange of cards before dealer names trump:
Each player who was up on the previous hand gives one unwanted card per overtrick to a player who was down, and that player must return the highest card or cards that they hold of the same suit or suits. Players receiving cards in suits that they do not have or in a suit which they can not provide a higher card for, simply return those cards to the issuer instead of making an exchange. This is done without declaring any suits or revealing any cards.
If two players were up, the player with the higher target for the hand about to be played, gets to exchange the cards first, and if he is to exchange cards with two players who were down, then he exchanges with the player who has the lowest target first.
After this exchange is complete, dealer names trumps, discards four cards and takes the kitty as before.
If the dealer was down in the previous round and gave away the highest card of a suit, but then picks up one or more higher cards of that same suit, these high cards must be shown privately to players who traded cards in that suit.

Play and scoring continues as above. As the game proceeds, a players target moves up, i.e., 3, 5 then 8 and back to three and so on.

Android App Marketing Tips

The Android platform, as you are well aware, is rich and diverse, ranging over multiple mobile devices and OS versions. Hence, your app marketing strategy has to be such that it is appealing to the potential customer and always keeps them engaged with your app.

1. Find Your Target Device and/or Platform

Generally, advertisers would not want to target Android’s entire range of mobile devices, as it would become too laborious and also prove to be too expensive. Google enables mobile advertisers to target the particular OS or OS’ they prefer, instead having to choose all platforms at one go. The Android app marketer, therefore, has the advantage of being able to decide the exact mobile devices and platforms he wants to target and then proceed further with his app marketing strategy.

2. Make Sure that the Ad Loads Fast

This is one major point you should make sure of, before going on to promote your app. See to it that your load time is no more than 5 seconds. Otherwise, the chances are that your audience will get bored of the wait and hit the Back or Skip button. Remember, your mobile audience is invariably quite fickle and equally demanding as well. Hence, do everything you can to grab their attention.

3. Enable Users to Interact with You

The advertisement for your app has to be such that it helps your audiences interact with you, thereby engaging them and encouraging them to visit you and check out your app. The best way to do this is to give your visitors a few options to choose from. Clicking on each options would eventually lead them to the same place – the app that you are promoting. Each of these options should also highlight an important function of your app. This will also help them get a general feel of the app.

4. Offer Viewers a Reward

As an advertiser, you can further engage your viewers by offering them a reward in the form of discounts, coupons or even free apps. This will encourage them to keep coming back to you for more. Make sure to prominently highlight this offer, so that viewers are tempted to know more about them.

5. Include Different Languages

Android devices are available in many parts of the world. Hence, it would be to your benefit to advertise in several languages and not merely stick onto English. This will help you reach a variety of international audiences as well. Of course, before actually proceeding ahead with this strategy, you will have to plan out exactly what languages to include and how to go about the translation process for the same.

6. Homogenize Your Ad on Different Devices

One clear problem with the Android platform is the extreme fragmentation of the OS, thanks to the existence of far too many devices and OS versions. While choosing your preferred OS versions will prove to be a big task in itself, it could become a much bigger problem to adapt your advertisement to the very diverse mobile devices offered by Android. Depending on the size of the screen, brightness, resolution and other related factors, your advertisement will tend to appear different on each of these different mobile devices. Working your way around this issue, though, will give you that edge, as you will be able to reach a much wider audience.

Can you think of any more such tips? Do feel free to share your thoughts with us.

Developing a Strong App Brand

Not many developers realize that developing strong app branding techniques would help firmly establish their portfolio.

Limitations of the Developer

  • Of course, mobile app branding is not exactly all that simple. For a start, the small display screen size on a mobile device is probably the biggest limiting factor as far as app branding is concerned.

  • The second important factor is that app stores themselves do not do full justice to promoting all of a developer’s content online on the mobile device. This makes it even more difficult for the developer to feature all of his or her apps.

  • The above limitations notwithstanding, there is still a lot of scope for the developer to create strong branding for his or her mobile app. This article brings you ways in which you can go ahead and develop strong branding for your mobile app.

    Naming Your App

    Properly naming your app goes a long way in establishing the app in the minds of the users, also mentally listing the rest of the developer’s app portfolio. The more relevant your app name is to the function of your app, the better your app will fare in the marketplace.
    Of course, it may not always be possible for you to follow this technique. In case the app name of your choice is already taken, you could probably use a combination of two words as a single word, with each one being capitalized. A good example of this is PlainText, which is a popular dropbox text editor for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

    Giving Your App an Icon

    Your app icon too helps users uniquely relate with your app. This aspect of app branding takes a lot of work and creativity. But once you manage to arrive at the best icon for your mobile app, that itself will push your app up in the marketplace rankings and among users.
    The easiest way to figure out the right kind of icon for your app is to try relating your icon to some important feature of your app. For instance, you could try and match the color scheme of your icon to those that you mainly use in your app. If you are developing a mobile social gaming app, try and incorporate a particular gaming character as your main icon character too.
    Thus, using subtle or direct references to your app in your icon can be of immense help for you to develop a stronger app brand.

    User Interface

    Try and create a user interface for your app that will reveal your app’s general “personality” and “voice”. Maintain this quality throughout your app’s user interface. Doing this will totally engage the user in the experience during the time he or she is using your app.
    Make sure that the app’s interface, colors, themes, sounds, designs and all other aspects are in line with the general feel of the app.

    Help and Support

    This is one aspect that should never be missed. Make sure to include a help, about or support section wherever applicable in your app. While you can incorporate the help section into the app interface, the support or about section can be put in the settings tab.
    Including a complete and comprehensive help section ensures that your user is inclined to use your app more frequently.


    Following the above-mentioned steps will help you build a strong app portfolio and establish you as a reputed developer, thereby creating strong branding for your mobile app.

    Android App Marketing: Promote Your App Even Before its Release

    Mobile devices and mobile apps are definitely here to stay. With many thousands of apps hitting each major app store today, users are given a very wide choice in apps in practically every imaginable category. However, app developers are at a disadvantage, as they may not be able to give the required exposure to their app, in the app marketplace. The solution to fix this issue is to learn to market your app in such a way that it gets the attention it truly deserves.
    Most app developers do not realize is that the process of mobile app marketing can start right from the initial stages of app development, when the app is no more than a mere idea in the developer’s mind.
    Here is how you can promote your app even before its official release in the app market of your choice:

    Start with a Splash

    Creating a splash page is undoubtedly one of the best ways to generate public interest in your app. No matter what your app deals with, building a splash page directs user traffic to it. Your app’s splash page is something like an anchor that supports your app, from the initial stages of app development, right to the very end, where you can grow your initial page and create a full-blown Website for your app.
    Your splash page should include a device image; basic information about your app’s functionality and what it can be used for; information on how it will help your users; some aspects of app branding and links to the major channels of social media.

    Give Users a Little Peek

    Make sure to inform your visitors of all your app modifications and additions, no matter how small they may be. This creates an impression of your being serious and passionate about your work. You could even ask your visitors to contribute their own ideas, thereby generating even more interest throughout the process.
    Participating in forums dealing with app development would also help you get more exposure for your app. Furthermore, there are app development blogs out there that would be more than willing to feature your app right from its early stages of development. You could offer such forums exclusive information on your app, which they will not find anywhere else. That will pique their interest further.
    Including a newsletter signup in your splash page will enable your visitors to know about all the latest updates on your app. This helps you establish a personal relationship with your potential future customers.

    Tease Your Audience

    Creating a teaser video of your app is yet another way of driving traffic toward your app. Your video need not be of great quality, though that is a definite plus. You merely need to tell your visitors what your app is all about and keep them informed about the progress in development.
    It is not necessary that you need to present the completed version of your app at this stage. In fact, exhibiting your app-in-the-making will keep your audience engaged in your work. Make sure that your line of narration is interesting and/or add a little background music if you so wish.

    Invite Beta Testers

    Once your splash page is ready to be showed off, follow it up by inviting volunteers to beta test your app. Beta testers are beneficial in more ways than one. While they give you the much-needed feedback on your app, the chances are that they will also tell their friends about your app, much before it actually launches in the app marketplace. Thus, these testers will instantly become an important, free, app marketing tool for you.
    Offer promo codes to friends who are or have important contacts in the various media channels. Using promo codes enables these people to review your app and get a feel of it even before its official release. You could even ask them to feature it just before the actual release of your app, so that it can help act as a teaser in itself.

    In Conclusion

    As you can see from the above article, mobile app marketing is a process that can start much before you finish your app development process. Put this strategy into practice and reap much richer results from your app development efforts.