Sunday, July 31, 2005

New House pix

A few friends were asking, so here are pix of the new house. Will be a while before we move in, but we can enjoy virtually :-)
Front of house
View from the bedroom

Media room

Living room



Speaking of overused words, I heard a radio ad in the car yesterday for a tourist bureau, a snippet of which was "...let the scent of the evergreens overwhelm your senses...". Clearly hyperbole! The only scents I can think of that literally overwhelm my senses are smelling salts (ammonia), and Wild Turkey (which causes a Pavlovian response due to an unfortunate alcohol poisoning incident of years past). The only taste I can think of that *overwhelms* the senses is that of gasoline, which I unfortunately got a mouthful of several times back as a teen when we used to syphon gas out of our parents cars whenever our motorbikes were running low and we didn't have the one dollar, or whatever it was to fill up back then.

Anyhow. I'm overwhelmed.

This was week one on the job, and week one in a new city. I'm simultaneously trying to wrap my head around things that are new, or at least new to me: New job, new company, new infrastructure, new laptop (tablet, actually, which means new OS variant), new market, new business models, new corporate political environment, new temp housing, new house, new mortgage.

Add to that the sale of our existing home, the move of our possesions, and all the administrivia that goes with changing companies and abodes (roll over 401ks, change of address to 100 different people and places, change medical providers, etc, etc).

Anyhoo. It's just a little overwhelming. Perhaps just whelming. Maybe extrawhelming but not just overwhelming.

We did the drive back to Portland today and are doing the move this weekend. Back to Redmond on Tues.

Friday, July 29, 2005

What's in a word

Despite the fact that it's in my new job title, "casual games" is the wrong term for... umm... casual games. this came up multiple times in hallway converstations at Meltdown. Worse than the wrong term, it's a misleading term. Someone who plays Scrabble or Word Mojo or Insaniquarium for 3 hrs a day is as, or more, hardcore than someone that plays an hour of Doom3.

Worse than just being wrong, it's misleading and reinforces incorrect assumptions about the consumers of those games... and the POTENTIAL consumers of those games.

But I don't know what the right word is. Someone suggested 'mainstream'. I think that's a cop out as well.

While I'm at it, there's a bunch of other vernacular that just plain needs banning. The word 'compelling' is no longer compelling, the use of the word 'ubiquitous' has become ubiquitous, and we need the next-gen term for the term 'next-gen'...

Stylus control

If I ever find some spare time and want to keep my technical chops sharp, I might try writing some games for the tablet PC I just got. Robin showed me some titles on her DS at Meltdown, and I think the stylus control is very cool but is limited on such a small screen. Would using it for big, swooping movements make for better control? Likely just different. I'll maybe start with a pong/breakout/tennis type of game and see if I can capture user input for things like strength, spin on the ball, etc. (Like I'll ever find the time...)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Great letter to Sen. Clinton

Good letter to Hillary worth reading.

Attention! Le cafe est chaud!

So I've wanted to talk about this Hot Coffee issue for a while. I should note up front that I'm talking out of... well, not my mouth, for three Reasons: (a) I've never played GTA3:San Andreas - I played GTA3 start to finish but didn't see the value of playing the sequels/expansions, (b) I've never seen the Hot Coffee mod, other than from a couple screenshots, and (c) I haven't read up on the subject much.

But, this is a blog, and thus I don't really need any qualifications to pontificate, so here goes.

As I understand it, here's a synopsis of the subject:

Rockstar (developer) develops a game called Grand Theft Auto 3: San Andreas (GTA3:SA), and ships it via publisher Take Two (TT). Entertainment Software Rating Board gives the game a Mature rating (M). After the game ships, one or more hackers tinkering with the game's bits figure out how to enable a "modification" (mod, quotes to be explained later), called 'Hot Coffee' to the game that allows the player to participate in a bunch of "mini-games" that are basically pornographic in nature (I don't beleive there's full frontal nudity - esp MALE FFN which is what really gets the porn stamp here in conservative America). Another hacker somewhere takes the hack from the PS2, which was hard for the avg user to replicate, and figures it out for the PC version, and so now it's easily distributed on the web. Then all hell breaks loose.

Jack Thompson, anti-game-violence crusader/gold-digger starts touting it, Hillary Clinton gets on a soapbox, etc. Surely Jesse Jackson, Geraldo, and Baba Wawa can't be far behind.

Rockstar puts out a statement denying that the missions and artwork (the bits) existed in the game to begin with, and that it was just a mod. Others contest this point. This is Rockstar's "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" moment. The world is highly skeptical of this comment.

Controversy escalates, Rockstar volunteers a change of rating from M to AO. Retailers pull from shelves, FTC announces investigation into whether the bits existed in the first place, and whether this constitutes a deliberate effort to circumvent the ESRB rating. To quote a friend, "And now the dancing turns German".

OK, so what's all the hubbub about?

Clearly it's another case of society coming to grips (or not coming to grips in this case) with a new medium and the new possibilities it entails. It's also an example of a personal pet peeve: America has it's priorities messed up and has a big pickle up it's puritan butt. The puritan aversion to all things sexual I've observed since moving to the country just gets accentuated here by the fact that it's OK to run around on a killing spree (M rating) but the second someone gets a piece, well, that's Adults-only, thank you. But that topic's been done to death. I'll put it to bed by saying: America, get over it. Go to France, see a booby, see that kids aren't running around all Geoffery-Dahmer-like, and as they said in Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing, "Y'ALL GOT TA COOL OUT!!!"

Back to more lucid discussion: There are several interesting questions the hot coffee mod and subsequent events have brought about. Back to the interesting questions:

1 - To what degree is the author of *interactive* content responsible for anticipating and preventing users from creating an offensive scenario for themselves or those looking over their shoulder?

2 - To what degree is the publisher & developer of interactive (and this could even be something like DVD movies) responsible for verifying that no offensive material exists on the medium that might get later exposed in some way? (e.g. If a lone person inside the developer hides an offensive easter-egg in there).

3 - How graphic and photo-realistic does something have to be before it's considered inappropriate? Is naked GTA3 worse than Naked Sims because they look more true to life (crappy graphics engine comments aside). Would Naked HL2 be worse (whoah! Look at the coochy shader!)

I don't have answers, but I think they are interesting topics for discussion and if there's *any* good that comes from the Hot Coffee debacle it'll be that it forced these issues.

I do have one perspective that I'll share.

I don't beleive that it's cut-and-dried. I think there's a spectrum of... let's call it "innappropriate content enablement".

At one end of the spectrum, someone authors something that allows the user to author content or enable events or sequences of events to happen. Let's call this the innocent end of the spectrum.

At the other end of the spectrum, lets call it the malicious end, is someone who authors content with clear intent of enabling end-users to easily and quickly author or enable innappropriate content. The out-of-box experience might be innocent enough, but it's clearly designed to get around initial scrutiny and let the target audience get to "something more".

Photoshop is an enabling tool. If someone uses it to draw a naked person, Adobe's hardly to blame. This is an example of something close to the 'innocent' end of the spectrum.

Someone that ships a comic book with naked girl pix hidden in invisible ink, and then ships it with a pen to reveal said ink, well, they are at teh far right.

Rockstar is pretty clearly toward that far end of the spectrum - but how far? That's what the FTC investigation is going to try to find out. If it really is that far, then they should twist in the wind. If not, well, we're still going to need to find a way to deal with this stuff. Eithe way it's going to be interesting to watch.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

As a smart person once said...

... and now the dancing turns German!


If I had the time...

... I'd write blog entries on the following:

  • Started my new job at MS. Really jazzed about them as an employer. I'm heavy drunk on the koolaid.
  • MS Meltdown. Cool stuff, very excited about the stuff I'm going to work on and the ambitious problems they are trying to tackle for the medium
  • Hot Coffee. (a) I have a big rant about the interesting new legal ground being covered in many facets of gaming, the hot-coffee controversy being the negative side of that, and (b) I've come to agree with a friend's assertion that, yes, the irresponsible actions of those responsible for assets baked into the final build need to be... well... torches and pitchforks and let's meet at the town square.
  • pix of the new house

Anyhow, when I have time. busy busy. more meltdown tommorrow. Yummy Koolaid! Drink up!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

And in the blink of an eye...

...we made the largest impulse buy EVER!

Seattle's a fast-moving real-estate market. So after seeing a house that we REALLY loved, and that was about to open to an open house, we made an offer. We weren't the only offer either, but we won the bid and the house is ours (pending inspection, financing finalization, etc, etc).

It's about 10 minutes from work, has a nice view of Lake Sammamish, and has... wait for it... a POOL! Yippee!

Pix later when I get the chance.


Well, we made it. We packed up 2 adults, 2 kids, 2 geriatric dogs, and World's Fattest Cat, and made the trip up to temp housing in Redmond. House hunting today.

Don't get broadband for a few days yet. Thank goodness for wireless camping, right Adam?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Portland Code Camp! Tommorrow!

I just found out this is happening at Reed college this weekend. I won't attend due to the move, but any of you portlandites interested in game development should check it out. Snip:

What can I expect at the Portland Code Camp?
Two full days of talking about code with fellow developers, on the scenic Reed College campus. Sessions will range from informal “chalk talks” to presentations. There will be a mix of presenters, some experienced folks, for some it may be their first opportunity to speak in public. And we are expecting to see people from throughout the Pacific Northwest region.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Casual Games Developer Conference

I'd meant to post something on this right after getting back, but as my previous posts imply, I've been a little busy. I've got a little time now, and will see how much I can type given that I've only got a little over 30 minutes, and am *crazy* sore after wakeboarding yesterday. (see previous post)

I attended the conference as a kind of ramp-up exercise for my new job, trying to make new contacts and learn more about the casual gaming space. I got up at 4am to drive down there, attended the full conference except for the final session, when I went to look at some houses for sale in the area and then drove home.

For a first time conference, I give it about a 7/10. I've been to many first-time events before, and this did better than some, but there was still much room for improvement. Feedback I'm sending to them (maybe I'll just point them here?) is as follows:

  • More international representation on panels. First panel was great for this, but after that, everything was very US centric
  • Panels are good, but this was almost exclusively panels. Mix it up with a mix of panels, lectures, workshops, etc.
  • Feedback forms. They had them for the conference overall, but they need a better mechanism for getting per session feedback.
  • As well as rating panels, rate moderators. (Jessica, bless you for your efforts on the conference overall, but you have much to learn about moderating panel sessions)
  • Stick to schedule. "let's give it 5 minutes for people to show" is discourteous to those that showed up on time. Esp when 5 minutes turns into 20.
  • Make sure that speakers and panelists are familiar with the abstract, what the audience has come expecting, and that you stay *moderately* on topic.
  • Make proceedings available afterward, at least for attendees. Word on the street was that there were no plans to.

OK, griping aside (temporarily), here's some notes from the conference.

Day 1:

Session 1: Multiplayer: This examined multiplayer as it pertained to online games, services, portals, MMOs and all points in between. Wonderful selection of panelists with people from UK (Dan James, Three Rings) to US (Hugh De Loayza, EA Pogo) to Korea (Jiho Song, CJ Internet) to Finland (Pai Ilola, Sukake) and others. Very eye opening examples of figures being thrown around for things like item sales in games, numbers of online subscribers, pay-per-play numbers, etc. I found this panel very educational. Best quote: from Jiho Song, "Online game is like a live animal. You don't just release it. You raise it" (talking about how you release the game expecting to make many changes, and viewing it as a 'nurturing'). They also refer to their in-game-MMO service reps as "game gardeners".

Session 2: Developing for the PSP and DS-if-we-had-someone-from-nintendo-but-we-dont: Definitely worst session of the conference. Sorry Mark! (a) Jessica did a very poor job moderating, not playing off panelist comments and probing further, but rather moving on to next item on her prepared list of topics and (b) it was a PSP love-fest, but without substance. "Aw man, it's just awesome to develop for!" OK, why? What's the one thing you'd change? Any downsides? Ugh. The only highlight was when Alex St-John poked at Mark a bit from teh audience and made him do a little check-is-in-the-mail dance about how Sony is looking into download-to-device channel schemes.

  • And aside: I made some notes while in this session and made a point system for moderators: You get 2 points for getting panelists to inject 'vision', 2 points for injecting 'controversy' (an automatic 4 points if another panelist takes the other side of an arguement), 1 point for 'information regurgitation), minus 2 point for product-pitch, and minus another 2 if it's uncontested by another panelist. This panel didn't score well.

Session 3: new business models. Well, there aren't any :-) However, the discussion on how the current ones work or might be modified slightly or turned into hybrids was pretty good.

Session 4: Advergaming: One of the better sessions of the conference for two reasons: (1) Alex St-John was on it and knows that poeple like some controversy and like to see panelists 'mix it up' a bit, and he delivered on that front, and (2) it was an informative, eye-opening look at a very significant portion of the market that often gets dissed unjustifiably. Best (most eye opening quote): Alex St John, "This is a significant and growing market. You can ask me, or any single one of the companies on this panel, and I guarantee you we'll all tell you that we are turning away business. We have more business coming to us than we can take on."

Session 5: "Creative Plagiarism": This lecture (1 of only 2) by Scott Kim, puzzle-meister, was a bit different than the abstract explained, but it was really good nonetheless. Kim has designed paper puzzles, plastic toy puzzles, games for PC, Online, and cell phone that were puzzles, and puzzles for audiences world wide. His talk was about digging down to the root mechanic of puzzle games, figuring out what will or won't be possible when translating to another medium, and then extending it on that new medium. Very informative and entertaining. (speaking of plagiarism - I'm tempted to steal his logo!)

Day 2:

Session 1: IGDA Sig announcements. Great they had it, poorly run. Only about 20 people showed up, so they made us wait 20 of the 30 minutes and then did the panel in ten minutes. They didn't appear to have a charter "we're here to evangelize casual games" until I probed them "to who?" at which point they had ideas they threw out that were ok. Applaud the effort, but they need some work.

Session 2: Scoring Music for casual games: Guy Whitmore from MS casual games studios talked about design principals he uses in designing interactive music for games, both casual and 'hardcore'. Great examples, very thought provocative. Best quote: "I use sound effects as instruments and instruments as sound effects. They are all part of the same soundscape and should seemlessly mesh. If you aren't using the same person for both, at least make sure they are talking". Great examples he used to illustrate: Word Harmony, Russian Squares (Win XP plus pack bundled game).

Session 3. Contracts and Royalties: A panel in which the audience and several panelists once again amazed me with their lack of understanding of basic business principles. Ladies and gentlemen, does anyone on the flight know how to fly the plane? There were a couple sane voices on the panel that brought some sanity to the discussion.

Session 4: Sponsored lunch session from Lisa Waits at Nokia. Possibly the worst lecture I've ever attended. Comical. We guffawed through lunch and then left. Example: "If you aren't thinking about how to get on device X, you'd better think about it!" um, why? cause you say so? cause you bought me a turkey roll and a bag of sun chips?

Session 5: Wireless: I missed this one because of a hallway discussion I was in that went long.

Session 6: Appealing to the casual gamer: A good discussion about demographics, how to grow the audience and the medium. It wrapped with a mucho excellente soap box pitch from Nicholas Fortugno at GameLab about the future of interactive entertainment and interactive narrative. Way to go Nicholas! I'm drinkin' the same Koolaid and lovin it!

Nicholas' rant would have made a fine closing note for the conference, and for me, it did. I skipped the last session to go house hunting.

Hope these notes are useful to someone. For what it's worth, I intend to attend next year. See you then!


Sorry, still haven't gotten around to posting notes from CasualGDC. Later today. Promise.

Yesterday I went wakeboarding for the first time.

I wore glasses from the age of ten, and was so blind without them that I couldn't see a lake - even if I was in it! - so waterskiing was always out of the question. Since getting Lasik surgery, this has no longer been a limiting factor so I thought I'd try it when given the chance.

Former boss Pete was taking his boat out along with his brother, a co-worker and my friend and former co-worker Adam. Pete and his brother are both experienced wakeboarders, so after each taking turns and doing a couple jumps and generally showing off, they gave us newbies a turn.

Conspiracy theory: Pete had a claim that "everyone gets up in 10 tries or less". Each time someone would try and fail, they'd yell out, "you're turning your board too soon", or "you're not standing up soon enough". I was highly skeptical that the driver of the boat, who's not watching what made you fall, could really know. I think basically they were yelling out random selections from a list of statements until you just figured it out for yourself.

I earned bragging rights by getting up on the third try (It took the other two newbies seven and nine tries), but in their defense, the lakes water level was a lot lower after I involuntarily drank about a million gallons of lake water. Good thing we have moderately clean lakes here.

Anyhow. Lots of fun. Will have to go again sometime!

Thursday, July 21, 2005


OK, I'm like the last person in the connected world to get into the Podcasting thing. I'd been meaning to, but never got around to it, until I had a 3hr drive on tuesday, so late monday night I did a quick search for some stuff to throw onto my player.

I did a search on "game development podcast" to see what I hit, and the first hit was Steve Lacey's site. I've met Steve and talked to him a few times. He works at MS on the graphics engine for Flight Sim. Anyhow, his podcast (at least the couple episodes I downloaded) isn't really gamedev related, but it's interesting nonetheless.

Big Cities

While at CasualGDC (notes on that soon), I had a conversation with a woman from a small mobile games studio in LA. During the course of conversation I learned about Wumpskate, a goth event at a roller rink.

Yes, you heard right. Goth Rollerskaters. How big does a city have to be before the intersection of two subcultures like that is big enough to justify regular events?

Well, there is the *other* CGDC...

(Yeah, I know, both developers and christians are going to be miffed with me labelling them subcultures, but it's closest I could come to a clever joke, so cut me some slack!)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Kim 3.0

Well, it's official, I no longer work at Intel. I dropped by today to turn in the laptop, pick up a few last effects, and turn in the ol' geek badge. I got home to find my last paycheck had arrived in the mail, so I guess that's that!

Next Monday I start at Microsoft in the Windows Gaming and Graphics Team, as Casual Games Strategy Manager. Or as I like to call it, "Kim 3.0". While next Monday is the official release of Kim 3.0, I'm actually pre-releasing 'unofficially' tommorrow, as I will be getting up early to go to the Casual Games Conference up in Seattle. I have to be out the door at 5am to get up there in time (yawn!)

I'll post something longer about the transition, why I made it, how I'm approaching it, etc, when I've got a bit more time, but tonight I have to get to bed early so I don't fall asleep and drive off the I-5!

New link

Adam blogeth, Kim linketh.

Adam works for me at Intel, for another 12 hours or so :-)

Sexy Sexy Gotta Have!!!

Oooohhhh... gotta have!


Sunday, July 17, 2005


If you haven't seen the iPod "iFlea" spoof ad, it's worth a couple minutes. Pretty clever.

(Thanks Majd!)


It's a long way from Cosplay, to this guy.

And I'd say that even if I didn't hate God of War.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Google Earth...

... is da bomb! I wasn't a fan of keyhole's app for a long time, but I have to eat my words now. Google Earth totally Rocks the Christ Child.

Here's my current house on Cooper mountain, and the view of Mt Hood from it. Surprisingly close to the real thing!

Friday, July 15, 2005

The new James Bond

It's official.

My friend Tim Cherna is the new James Bond.

"No, mistah bond... I expect you to DIVE!"

Go check out his pics here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Now that's crazy...

Skateboarder jumps great wall of china.

Danny Way has cahones almost, but not quite, as big as Neil Jing.

I thought for sure that picture was doctored until I googled it and read more details on the ramp:

That's a crazy ramp. Go see the site with the videos:

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

minor updates

The archives list was getting lengthy and confusing. Changed to a monthly format.

Changed my email update address from my one, as that'll no longer function as of next monday.


Brian today posted an interesting piece regarding his thoughts on religion, god, and sentience that is an interesting read regardless of your beleifs.

Which reminded me that I'd forgotten another link I wanted to add to a friend's blog:

Meet Matt Fife. Matt was a 3D graphics research engineer here at Intel before deciding that he'd like to go to seminary college at Mt Angel here in Oregon. While we differ on many beleifs, it's been very interesting to read about the education there and to see Matt's transformation into a much deeper, spiritual person.

If nothing else, check out his photo gallery. Matt is an awesome photographer. A sample:

All this postin' on religion. Perhaps because of the impending CGDC?

Sin City

Went to see Sin City tonight with Adam.

Ah, but it was uber-phat. Saw it at the Bagdad theatre, a really cool old place owned by the McMenamin brothers (that own, like, a bajillion bars in Portland). It's a cool building, and even cooler because you can drink beer while you watch a flick.

I likes me the stylized violence and I likes me the beer!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Carney Talk!

This is the most awesome list of carney terminology. I'm going to start working these into my vocabulary for everyday talk around the office at the new job.

Or should I say, I'm gonna use this to develop a new call before I bail the counter!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

New links

I've been meaning to add a few links to other blogs I frequent. They are on the right hand side of the page.

John Stark's blog. Another ex-montrealer, John builds giant display walls. I beleive the biz model is "charge secret military operation a bajillion dollars to build display wall. Then charge hollywood two bajillion to make display wall that you promise looks just like the secret military one you aren't supposed to know about". John himself is also giant. (Ol' montreal trivia: Tim & John, both linked from my blog, were once college roommates. During a drunken party, Tim sat on John's shoulders and yelled "who runs barter town!?" in Master-Blaster fashion, and we've never stopped laughing about it since)

Gamefam. Dan Matkowsky's blog aimed at the {if (parent && gamer)} set. Looks like it's gonna be great.

Jane. Jane writes for GamePro, maintains a blog as part of that job, has a personal blog, and created GameGirlAdvance. So I'm triple linking her!


Gone huntin' hunting that is.

We're up in Redmond for the weekend doing some house hunting in the area. Exhausting to do with two little ones that need to be strapped in and un-strapped from the car seats 10 times a day.

It's a nice area. I think we'll like it here. Definitely very "pacific northwest" like Portland (which I guess means it's green, it's Green, it's casual, it's outdoorsy. They are very into bicycles here, which is good.

We looked at some places that were a 10 minute bike ride from the MS campus. We also looked at places that were a ~30 minute drive (in traffic, 15 minutes without). Location of the former is nice. what you get for your money is nice with the latter. Either way, the ones we liked were the ones that were out of our price range.

Alisa's comment before bed tonight made me laugh: "we need to find some more money". Uh, 'find'? Does that mean I'm supposed to go rob a bank after she goes to bed? :-)

Anyhoo. Another bit of looking tommorrow and then back to Portland and back for my last week at Intel.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

For your literate labs...

Gretchen Ledgard at MS points us to Reading with Rover, a literacy program aimed at young kids. An awesome sounding program in the Seattle area. Sounds like it's only there so far, but the site has info on starting your own chapter. Go for it!

"In the "Rover" program, children with reading difficulties actually read stories to a dog and the dog loves to listen! A child that may be hesitant to read aloud to his peers is typically less stressed when reading to a dog and the dog never judges the child's reading ability."

Alisa used to take our dog buddy to be a therapy dog at old folks homes and such. It's amazing the comfort our canine friends can bring to some folks (even if they cause me nuthin' but headaches! :-)

Anyhow, this sounds like a noble cause.

Happy (belated) America Day

I'd meant to post some pix of our July 4, but didn't get around to it till now.

We started by taking a walk with the kids, master-blaster style, for a walk through the forest next to our block, and then over to see the horsies up the street and feed them some apples.

Tom gets a giggle out of the big "nay nay"

Jenny also likes the horsies.

There are actually 4 of them, but one wasn't around.

Then it was back home for some relaxation on the deck. Tom & Jenny changed into little kimono outfits from Alisa's mom's friend in Japan.

Gardening Time

We then went to a BBQ at Pete and Jen's place (sorry no pictures). I made yummy Tropical Hot Pepper Salsa:
- 2 mangos (diced)
- 1 papaya (diced
- juice of 1 lime
- minced fist full of cilantro
- diced Jalapenos (1 = wimpy, 2 = not as wimpy, 3 = now we're talkin', 4 = "whassat? can't talk?")
mix it up and serve. Gets better if it sits for a few hours.
Then back home to put the kids to bed and watch fireworks off the deck.

The view we get of the insanity that is American Pyrotechnic Enthusiasm is pretty awesome. We have a view that goes for miles and it really looks like there's a war going on, with rockets going off as far as the eye can see (Despite their being illegal here!) and smoke drifting across the valley. Here's a poor attempt at a composite shot taken at two angles for a "widescreen" view:

The view from the deck

The only down side is that out poor neurotic dog is terrified of the fireworks and he's a wreck for a couple weeks before and after the fourth.

This year, the fireworks woke Tom and Jenny up, so we got them out of bed to watch, and they loved it. Definitely the highlight of my July 4!

I heard the news today oh boy...

On the radio this morning:

"In London, over 40 so far dead and 350 injured as bombs went off in several subway stations and a double decker bus.

More on that in a couple minutes, but first, over to (name) for 'Celebrity Sleaze' here on (station name)"

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a fine snapshot of what's wrong with the media today.


Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Beer League!

There's the National Hockey League.

Then there's the Junior Hockey League.

And then there's Beer League.

Bye Bye Twinky!

Sold my Twinky pinball tonight. :-(

We're moving so I have to get rid of some of these machines. Too heavy to transport, and I'm not sure we'll have room for them.

As a pinball game, Twinky's kind of lame. Nowhere near the complexity of play that machines in the late 70's and early 80's developed (for what it's worth, I think pinball went downhill after that. elegance gave way to overcomplexity and gadgetry. Sigh). However, I love the kitchy theme, which is modelled after Twiggy, with some American Bandstand type theme thrown in there. Note the NBC-style peacock on the scoreboard and Dick-Clark-esque announcer:

and note the sixties-style models on the playfield:

By Twinky! I'll miss you!

Super Disco Hard Drive Action!

Check THIS out!

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

The way it's meant to be played? In private!

...without Nvidia intruding on my space!

Sorry, I've been a little marketinundated (a poor attempted at another portmanteau) with the "The way it's meant to be played" Nvidia campaign. (TWIMTBP)

I just picked up Lego Star Wars for PC after looking around for a while (Kathy Schoback wasn't kidding about publishers shorting the market!), and I get the TWIMTBP splash screen. The box has a separate TWIMTBP leaflet inserted in the box that tells me that Nvidia powers will help me defeat the dark side. Nvidia, has it occurred to you that I may have reasons to not want to defeat the dark side?

Then my IGDA membership card arrives in the mail... and has a TWIMTBP logo on the back! Argh! Jason, you owe me a beer!

Article on MS hiring trends

Here's an interesting article on MS's hiring trends and issues faced in today's competitive talent market.

The article also mentions Gretchen Ledgard's blog (an MS recruiter blog) and the recent fuss about a recent post on it.

For what it's worth, my interviewing experience with MS was NOTHING like what the article describes, and was in fact very pleasant. They tolerated my tendency to "interview them more than they interview me", and were genuinely interested in finding a good fit for my talents. I plan on doing a detailed write-up at some point after I start there. Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 2, 2005

Lay down paper money for Paper Mario?

So at E3 2004, I saw Paper Mario for like, 5 minutes, and it's been nagging at the back of my brain for 15 months.

Today I came across this analysis/writeup of it on GameDevBlog, and now the nagging's getting louder.

Will need to pick up a GC and Paper Mario after the move. Hey, I bought a PS2 just to play Katamari, so this'll actually be a cheaper "single game purchase. Plus, Nintendo seems to be the only console vendor making real efforts to foster innovation.

Holy Real Estate Market!

We got a very reasonable offer on our house within hours of it going on the market. I'd heard things were moving quick these days, but this is crazy!

Anyhow, barring any unforseen problems, we'll be good to go and will just have to worry about the task of FINDING a house when we get up to Redmond-area.

Killer Kitty

We have a little black cat in the neighborhood who's new on the block. He's quite a little hunter. I saw him playing with a mouse before killing it just this morning. Here's a list of what he's killed over the past few weeks alone:

  • 2 mice
  • garter snake
  • a bat
  • a mole
  • a rabbit (!)
  • 2 birds

And that's just that I know of.

The rabbit was small but was probably 50% of the kitty's weight, so it must have been a good fight. Go killer kitty!

C'mon in!

You can check out our house listing & see some of those nifty 360-degree virtual tour photos of the place:

BTW, this is a real great example of an application of high dynamic range lighting that would be great. In order to get the room lighting right, the great outside views are totally saturated.

Friday, July 1, 2005

House is now listed...

The house listing is up, for those interested:

Go HERE, and enter search for number 5046640.

Neil Jing has big cahones!

At Intel, we get a sabbatical every seven years, where you get a couple months off. Adding your vacation to it and you can get about 3 months in total. I recently finished mine, returning in time for E3.

On our intranet site at work, they often have stories of people that have done interesting things on sabbatical. One couple went and did humanitarian work in Africa, one guy got his license to drive big rigs and spent sabbatical driving big rig trucks back and forth across the US.

Today there was an awesome story about Neal Jing. At the age of 40, with the cutoff date for sabbatical being 8 months away, and never having climbed a mountain, Neal decided he'd like to climb Everest.

People said he was nuts, that you need to train for years, etc. He decided to do it anyway.

He started training by running 8 miles a day every day but Sunday. Sundays he'd climb a local 1200 foot mountain - twice - wearing a 50lb backpack.

Then, within the next six months, he climbed Mt Rainier in Washington (14k ft), Haba mountain in China (18k ft), and mt Aconcagua in Argentina (23k ft).

Then he summitted Everest this past May.

Some people feel that Everest has gotten easier because you hear about all the "for hire" expeditions that are doing it. The following quote reminded me of how dangerous it really is:

“On the day of the summit, I felt strong and was pushing the Sherpas to move faster,” says Jing. “I had to step over frozen dead people from previous years, some in sitting positions, and some in crawling positions. The only thing in my mind was to reach the summit ASAP.”

Holy crap. That's so hardcore.

Kudos to Neil for reminding us that 40 is anything but over the hill, and that we all could do with pushing our limits some!

More detailed articles here, and here.

(BTW, I also spent part of my sabbatical on a mountain, but not nearly as extreme :-)