Wednesday, January 28, 2009

MySQL Random Row

For retrieving random records in MySQL, using "ORDER BY RAND()" may be a quick solution for small tables, but larger tables can be performance problems. This issue came up in a recent MySQL Professionals LinkedIn discussion.

There were some good replies and my own digging around led me to this great resource:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Greetings and Updates from the PAKRA Team

Hi all. Right about now, I am sure some of you are asking yourselves "exactly what are the folks at PAKRA up to in the new year?"

We are continuing to focus on bring innovative training tools to call centers through our use of serious games. Our call center simulation and training tool is still available as a free demo at Please contact me directly for additional information regarding this product. Our full suite of products includes the simulation"games", analytics regarding the game play decisions made, and learning management features that will allow supervisors and trainers to target their coaching and training interactions with the call center associates.

What else is new from PAKRA? We've recently begun development on our newest training product. This product is aimed at improving patient safety and reducing patient harm in the medical field. More updates on this product will be forthcoming!

In the meantime... Check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Just search for "PAKRA Games" and you find us.

Best wishes to all in the new year!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Making You Care through Characters

I just finished reading Daniel Roth's "Torture Me Elmo" article in Wired 17.02, which begins with how quickly children accepted Elmo Live as being real. I saw one in stores before Christmas and was also enamored. I never had a Teddy Ruxpin, so I can't compare experiences, but I imagine it would be similar to have such an emotive toy.

This made me think of video games today and how some (albeit laughably) try to make (or force) you to have an emotional connection with characters. I have to applaud some efforts made, like with Gears of War 2 ads. Initially, the music and content juxtaposition had me smirking every time (I personally think that was the intent), but then I could gradually see where some gamers would take it as an emotional task to be had. In-game, there are some cut scenes to keep any momentum or inside joke going. Take it however you please.

This is a serious games issue also... how serious can you make or a player take a scenario. The factor I'm addressing here is character involvement and interactivity. If I'm standing by with no way to get involved, I have a passive connection... rubber-necking with interest at the most. If I have some manner of control in the situation, I'm at least going to be more active in that relationship with a greater hope of connection.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Patient Safety Efforts in Ohio

A recent article in the Columbus Dispatch discusses an initiative launched by Cardinal Health's with Ohio Hospitals that will reduce medical errors made in hospital settings.

We are launching a games-based learning software and solution that will help hospitals reduce patient harm events. The launch is on April 15, 20009.
Email to learn more.

If you are a patient and/or patient-care provider, then come join hands with us to solve this problem of medical errors that affects millions of patients each day.

We are all humans and we can all make errors. But we can do something to reduce the ways that create these errors. Education and learning-by-doing is one such path of doing "something". We commend Cardinal Health for financing such efforts.

Think about the crash of the flight US Airways 1549 on the Hudson river, New York City, that happened the other day. I am convinced that the reasons that saved all lives on that plane are (i) years of practice by the pilot and (ii) investment in the infrastructure around the Hudson river (ii) practice of drills and safety by all crew on board and on the water and (iv) Luck and chutzpah.

Now, consider 8 such fully loaded airplanes crashing every week in the United States. That's the number of human deaths in the United States every week due to medical errors. Luck and chutzpah saves the rest of us who receive medical care every week and live to tell the story about it.

Can we not all join hands to save at least one fully loaded plane of patients?
Read the article ...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Review - Skate It for Wii

Released by Electronic Arts in November of 2008, Skate It is best described as a game that allows the player to skate through the street of the fictional city of San Van, and then venture out to shred through some of the world's best skate cities. The game also allows the game player to create and customize the ultimate skate spot.

What is innovative about this game?
What sets it apart for so many other skating simulation games that are already out there? The differentiator of this game comes from the unique set of controls designed specifically for the Nintendo Wii and Wii Balance Board. The use of both the motion sensitive hand held remote and the pressure sensitive Balance Board create a unique gaming experience.

For this review, I've ask an expert to test the game and put it through it's paces. Our guest reviewer is a 7 year old experienced gamer and skate boarding enthusiast, Connor Stewart.

PAKRA Games: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate this game?

Connor Stewart: 10 because it you can create your own person (editor's note: avatar). There is a Career Mode that lets you pick your own shoes, clothing, and hats. I like that you can pick your own board too. The thing that I don't like about it though is that some stuff is locked like clothing and boards.

PG: That's cool, but tell us about the game play. Did you like playing the game?

CS: Yeah. It's fun playing the game because you can go down ramps and you can crash and the game tells you if you have bruised, sprained, or broken anything. I also like it because you can go to free skate mode from the menu and I always do that. I can pick my own place where I want to skate and that's cool.

PG: Tell us about using the Wii Remote and Balance Board. How does that compare to playing skating games with a typical hand held remote?

CS: It's fun playing with the Wii remote because you can control the skateboard movements by moving your remote and not pressing buttons with my fingers all the time. I don't play on the balance board mode because it's too hard for me right now. The remote seems to work better. I do like to stand on the Balance Board though and pretend that I am on a real skateboard while I play the game using the remote.

PG: Can I ask you one last question?

CS: Not right now. I want to go back to playing Skate It now. Can I be done?

And there you have it! The balance board is a little complex for this 7 year old gamer to manipulate at this time but the hand held remote seems to be very intuitive. The free skate mode and customizable options are a big hit as well.

To check out additional reviews of this game, CLICK HERE for customer comments posted to

COMING SOON... A 30-something mom (who knows very little about football) reviews Madden 09!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Best PHP Framework

You're either eager or aggressive right now with a post title like that. Over at the LinkedPHPers LinkedIn Group, the inevitable question was asked. Many were suggested (see for examples) but there was no consensus and I don't expect there will ever be.

What is important is that you can compile a narrow list of frameworks so that you can actually try them. You may come to some immediate conclusions that have nothing to do with features or popularity, e.g. framework X is not compatible with your development environment or framework Y has a steep learning curve that you are struggling with.

A generic primer in MVC or other design patterns would be a better start to get newbies in the right "frame" of mind. Save some room in your head for framework-specific terminology and conventions for these patterns. For someone new to coding and PHP, grasping Object Oriented Programming (OOP) is also another starting point. You don't have to be an expert in these, but your understanding of base framework aspects will surely increase.

Great communities around these frameworks share similar stories from a range of experiences and will make an effort to help with specific issues. Once you get the hang of framework Z, you can always try out framework Y again or wait until you catch up with framework X.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More on R

The wonders of R

The open source statistical product R will soon become the "thing" that will out-do Minitab and SAS utilization. These existing statistical software providers are not considering creating SaaS applications. The management of these companies are not progressive enough to develop browser and operating system agnostic software application. So! Cheers to R.

We will use R for our LAMP supported architecture of PAKRA products.

Read on:
Data Analysts Captivated by R’s Power

Interesting interview about elearning trends

Serious Games and e-learning Trends

Worst of 2008

Visit below to read more about the Worst Games of 2008.
" Anti-Awards 2008"

Video-Gaming Trends

Who is taking over the world?
Visit the site below to learn more.
"Advertising Pawns' presentation "video-gaming-trends-presentation ..."

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Future is now!

Below is a passage from an interesting article posted on CLICK HERE for the full article.

“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” Albert Einstein
How absurd- learning without a teacher?According to T&D Magazine, with Web 2.0 offerings already a normal aspect of the way we work. Web 3D, in the form of virtual worlds and simulations, is fast becoming a major player in our current collaborative landscape. Workplace learning and performance professionals continue to seek out the tech tools to support the learners of the future. We have to be prepared for the demands of the organization. We need to look for ways to harness our interconnectedness to make information faster, more current, more accurate and more customizable for individual workers. This trend will expand with the rise of intellectual tutors and the on demand learning technologies. According to Gordon Fuller, Global Design and Development Leader IBM Center for Advanced Learning, The PC will shift from being the primary tool for office functions to the interface that allows true collaboration and subsequent innovation. The congruence of email, instant messaging, VOIP, virtual offices supplied through 3D environments, video conferencing, wikis, and shared meeting applications will create a hub that allows workers to not only share data and co-develop but also access content and subject matter experts automatically to collaborate in real time.” Who would have thought that social networking would become so ubiquitous? How absurd! Welcome to the future!

Gamespot Presents the Day After Christmas

Okay, okay, it's not the day after Christmas. It's closer to two weeks after Christmas! If you and your family is anything like mine, you probably still haven't played all of the video games that you received for the holidays. You might not have even figured out all of the features on your new Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation3, or PC.

You may still be asking yourself, where do I start? Which game do I play first? Exactly what can I do with this new Xbox console?

The friendly folks at have been kind enough to help all of us who are still a little overwhelmed. Check out their guide to the day after Christmas! Their guide contains great suggests about the top 5 things to do with your new Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, or PC. Also posted are strategy guides and cheats, as well as hardware resource information.

CLICK HERE for Gamespot's guide to the day after Christmas!

Friday, January 2, 2009

This is a good start

Tom Werner at Brandon Hall Research predicts 2009 trends for the learning delivery space. I think he needs to be more optimistic and not defer everything to 2010.
Either way, PAKRA seems to set to fly.
Read on ...