Thursday, December 22, 2005
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
This weekend Marty, Jodi, Stacey, and myself headed out to the gorge to do a little hike on Hamilton Mtn. The winds were crazy. We've had about a week of very cool (~30 degree weather) but very sunny weather, so we took advantage of it to take this hike, one of the best in the gorge and of perfect length. Took a few pix along the way and wanted to post a couple from the summit.
Two of the images above are from the summit ~2500 ft. Right as we were summiting a crazy intense storm was blowing in so we only spent a few very cold minutes at the top. was a great great time, and i got to try out my new uber xmas present jacket. the image at the top is a pix of 3 of us trying to stand up in the wind and not get blown off the side of the moutain. great way to spend a sunday afternoon!
Friday, December 16, 2005
"Tetris suggestively twisting and turning blocks, violent falling motions, and increasingly frenzied suspense are a potential influence on children," said video-game ethicist Steve Contreras. "By contrast, after playing Stacker, with its eternally unchanging shapes and gentle lowering actions, I doubt a child would ever want to arrange any sort of virtual block again. This is exactly what this controversial industry needed to rescue its reputation."
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
And what pops out the other side? new machines…see…lots of people think games want to be in the living room so we can use that big ass TV…but that TV is actually a limitation of the display capabilities we have that are cheap enough to build with a $300 device. nothing is cheaper than free, and you already have a display, so they don't have to provide one...that changes soon.
So…the market goes horizontal in 2010-2012, then what? well, if you think your PSP rocks, wait until you don the goggles running tiny LCDs at high resolution from a device the same size and you can look around you with that light saber in your hands (ala the new Nintendo Revolution controller is a primitive realization). head mounted displays limitations have primarly been: latency, weight, and resolution. These will be overcome in our lifetimes.
and with that introduction...welcome the next revolution in gaming :)
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
i'm thankful i have taken the advice of a few friends on a condo investment in florida i walked away from a few months ago (this was not for rent, i was going to flip the contract when the unit was ready for occupancy in 12-24 months). the most convincing argument they made was this: "when amateurs (read: idiots) like you start thinking this is a good idea is exactly the time you DON'T want to make the buy".
good advice, thanks chris :). it'll be interesting to see the selling price on those units in a year. and now....in the panic...how to exploit all those crazy no doc and low doc loans that were made, ARMs to people that had no business qualifying, etc. etc.
great reading: housingpanic.blogspot.com
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Sunday, November 13, 2005
managers think subordinates are motivated by (in order): good wages and job security. subordinates actually care about “full appreciation of work done with a “feeling of being in on things” second. in other words, managers do not understand what motivates their employees. According to the famous psychologist Maslow we can sort the motivations of people:
1. bodily needs
5. self actualization
Supervisors mistakenly think the lower needs are important to their subordinates (wage levels and job security address bodily needs and safety). workers feel that higher areas are more important. Good delegation relies on motivating around these higher needs.
Next, there are two examples given. Mgr. A: “Corporate wants another Q.C. report. I don’t know why. You’ll have to go around and note procedures used on all products and report” Mgr. B. says “our customer is especially interested in quality. we want to have a reputation of high quality. What I think we can do here is find ways to improve quality control by reviewing the current procedures.
what’s the difference? Mgr. A appeals to neither belonging nor achievement. Its ‘yet another order from corporate.’ He doesn’t emphasize the results that the subordinate is to achieve but starts right off on the method. The only motivation is the fear of a reprimand.
Mgr. b, on the other hand, presents the same assignment in a different light. First, he lets the subordinate know why the achievement is important. he put it in the context of the mutual efforts of everyone in the company and the status that results from achieving an important objective. Also, one can feel pride from participating in the teamwork of the firm.
Not a recommended book, but the highlight above is a useful observation and one to put into life's tool chest.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
call of duty and ghost recon looked unbelievable.
no, they were not available for purchase.
Monday, November 07, 2005
Here is a slide show of some areas close to where I used live. Evidently, the tornado went up Bell Road, and down Lincoln and then out by 261 and 66.
When things like this happen, so close to home, its always chilling, and those terrifying moments when you just don't know if everyone is okay, and if they aren't okay you can do NOTHING about it from so far away, its just scary as hell. Normally, when there is a tornado, you can see the sky changing and you know its a possibility, but this happened late at night, in a season when tornadoes aren't as common. I think its taken everyone by suprise and it makes it that much harder to handle.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Since moving to the pacific northwest I’ve become quite an espresso snob (don’t drink coffee much but I do love the latte’s). We tend to steer away from Starbucks unless it’s the only thing around. Personally, I think Starbucks is quite good when the barista is good, I just look for alternatives when I’m in a town like Portland when there are so many shops to choose from that make delicious drinks. There is a web site to help you find your non-corporate coffee at http://www.delocater.net/.
some of my favorites (and all of them have free wireless!):
World cup at 18th and Glisan, Powell’s, and the Ecotrust building in the Pearl
Common Grounds around 50th and Hawthorne
Stumptown on 3rd, one on Belmont, and one on Powell.
In Seattle: Victrola on 15th and Bauhaus on Pike/Pine near downtown.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Spent a good part of my weekend reading through the autobiography of Derman. This book really didn’t start to talk about quantitative finance until over 1/3 of the way through the book. Up to that point it was a biography of a physicist. He gave an inside look at the life inside academia for a ph.d. student, several postdocs including one at Oxford, time at Bell Labs back when they were relevant, and his time at Goldman and Saloman. I enjoyed reading it but it really was more of an autobiography than a book about the math. if you’re considering a life on wall street as a quant this would be a great read, if you want to know more about the math stick with the Mandelbrot book reviewed below.
This was a fantastic book if you’re interested in a very simple description of Mandelbrot’s work and its relationship to how markets work. I really had no idea until reading this book that CAPM (capital asset pricing model) was so widely regarded as incorrect yet still so widely used. While this is true, Dr. Mandelbrot misleads by making one think its just totally wrong when really it does provide a simple approximate model that is correct to a first order. What he does a great job of pointing though is the subtlety of the different methods…it’s the corner cases that matter the most (the days the market makes most of its movement up or down, those are the days that create the most gains or losses by a SIGNIFICANT margin). He does a great job of explaining intuitively, with figures he calls ‘cartoons’ to describe the multi-fractal behavior of markets.
The references at the end of the book provide a compendium of a significant amount of the work Mandelbrot has touched in his lifetime.
Friday, October 21, 2005
I believe the above definition is scientifically bunk. Simply, humans are natural, therefore, the things we produce, whether thoughts, genes, or algorithms are 100% natural. There is no real barrier between the two. The distinguishing is merely a conversational convenience that scientists must avoid to be credible. useful at dinner, useless in scientific inquiry.
Recently, I’ve been reading about folks (mathematicians) and their observations about the stock market and prices in the stock market. During these readings I have come across an issue that seems to lead many into amazement--that human created systems behave similar to natural systems. In this case, the similarities of market movement to turbulence in water or Brownian motion in particles. I feel this is terribly misguided…to separate out things man does as something that is NOT natural when something that occurs that man does not create is natural. the fact is that all of these systems are natural and the fact that a bunch of natural systems can be simulated with other effective models of natural systems is not as amazing as one makes it seem to be.
This has an interesting implication when it comes to silicon products, or software for that matter. At a high level people gaze in amazement at the artifact as if it is artificial..but in reality it is entirely natural and the barrier between the two is imposed by humans as they attempt to categorize and structure the world, not a priori by the world itself. Therefore, a machine, CPU, disk, etc. etc. broken down is created by a set of components that are entirely natural. Artificial flavors are created from natural systems. Genetic engineering is producing natural organisms by an entirely natural process of humans intervening in the ecosystem, just like a bear does when he hunts or when elks select their mates in the woods by genetic engineering (called natural selection but its really an exercise in genetic engineering)…there is no such thing to my knowledge that actually deserves to be called artificial that exists or has been created by humans. we are natural...synthetic fabrics are created by material DUG FROM DEEP IN THE EARTH…..if that is not natural than what is? are you saying because you manipulate it, bend it, stretch it, infuse it that it at some point takes on a different form, that it transitions from natural to artificial? and if so, where in that cycle did this transition occur? or is this one of those porn propositions, “you’ll know it when you see it.” as soon as man manipulates it perhaps? as soon as he takes the natural thing, uses a tree branch as a walking stick, it ceases its naturalness? do you see the flaws in this reasoning?
it matters because it effects perception. we are hung up on an error as a civilization, the distinguishing between things that exist without our intervention and things that exist only after our intervention. Relieving ourselves of this notion relieves us from the guilt of manipulation of our surroundings that engulfs huge swathes of humanity as they raise up in unison against things that are not pure. its not about that. take again the example of flavorings in food. now, it is perfectly reasonable to say ‘this stuff is too far from the tree for my little tummy to process appropriately and too weird for my body and may cause a mutation (which…by the way…is also an entirely natural occurrence). but it is not okay to say ‘this is artificial’. what we do when we actualize ourselves and manipulate the universe is following a natural course, there is nothing artificial about it.
again, I don’t debate the value of the word for conversation, I debate its usefulness in scientific dialog. a scientist cannot say something is artificial any more than a technology can be called inherently good or bad.
The primary goal of a hardware company is to become a software company.
Just healthy points in the business cycle? The difference? Software companies admit it.
And then...a few weeks later...we have on cnet:
"Indeed, thanks to the iPod, the iTunes Music Store, and other digital-media efforts, Apple’s image as a company has undergone a dramatic shift to the point where the age-old question about Apple—is it a hardware company or a software maker—has morphed into a new query. Is Apple a computer maker or a media company?"
Saturday, October 15, 2005
the reason this comes up is the following hypothesis: no officially recognized sect of the christian church exists that does not require the recognition of the resurretion of jesus christ. true or false? I believe the heart of confusion comes down to the word 'official', thus my first question, of what happens to make a sect 'official', and with whom is it official.
example is a corporation: ultimately, a corporation becomes official when it registers with the state and has a corportate ID number. relative to the state, at this point forward, it is real.
how does this happen for a church that claims to be 'christian'. can anyone do it? does it just have to incorporate as a non-profit?
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Larry Ellison. Before reading this book, the last guy in the world I thought I shared anything in common with would have been Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle. I figured he was a slick sales guy. Not that great, just a business savvy corporate dude. Easy to understand, single minded in purpose. Stereotypes: arrogant, egotistical (okay, maybe i do have something in common after all). Turns out he’s far more interesting than that. I knew he was into cars, planes, and the fun stuff his financial success has brought him. I did not know about his children, his struggles with Oracle and weathering the ebb and flow of the tech industry, his dedication to his family in Chicago. The book was just as much about Larry as it was about Oracle, apropos given building an organization of this nature becomes just as much an extension of yourself as any people you may bring into the world.
I did not know that Larry at heart is a technologist interested in doing things right….a software engineer at heart. He despises the pandering the sales teams require, unintellectual annual boondoggles to Vegas, and other things he determined long ago to have little value but resigns to them as part of having to have folks like that who work for him. He’d rather spend his time (and money) on the engineers and programmers that work at the company. He invests himself in making superior product. The book reveals many discussions with CEOs around the world and Larry’s feelings about them. these discussions gave insight into how their minds work and how Larry, being a very effective salesman himself, pitches each generation of Oracle product. it also gives deep insight into the complexity the software they build at Oracle embodies and why it’s a ‘hard problem’ to design the tools and technologies Oracle builds.
I also respect the integrity with which the books at Oracle have been managed through the years. No funny games. Here’s a successful company story, but that success has countless failures as a means to an end. and that is an important lesson. The failures of Microsoft and Intel make front page of all the ‘free financial news’…the mostly worthless press releases and mindfree content from Fortune and the Motley Fool. Its easy to see the good and bad of these products because everyone has to deal with them to get through their day. What they fail to see is the behind the scenes tools like DB2, SAP, Oracle, etc…the databases where all the worlds information lives. Reading this book allowed me to get an inside perspective on a part of the software industry I’ve really had very little interaction besides a small company I worked for in college and a brief fling with a startup I founded that we shut down after about 6 months.
For me, this book was 500 gripping pages I consumed in a week. I was engrossed and have to give it a 5/5 stars for me. However, I really think most people would not like this book and I understand completely why it was 80% off the cover price. for most people the intimate chronological story of a man and his database would be considered boring, but I was engrossed.
Cheers Larry. its been a long road, and you made me feel a little less…different.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
email for work is okay during the workday, NOT okay on the weekend. and so now i have this IM thing, does this mean if i am on at night and such and such has a question....they will think rude of me if i ignore them. and what if i am doing things at work that are more important than explaining what NTSC is or why your vertex buffer can't have 100,000 vertices....for these questions you can email me and i will get to them when i have an opening between higher precedence projects.
an analogy would be a professor trying to get his work done. HE HAS OFFICE HOURS. this is when you can come and ask the questions you have, not randomly in the middle of the day. it distracts you from higher value thinking and working, constructively actualizing yourself in a way that Maslow would smile.
seems to me this is an issue of what i want to be in my life..tech support (tactical) or creating new ideas and new innovations (strategic). IM facilitates tactical performance and is actually DETRIMENTAL to strategic time. i WANT tactical to be less of my life, not more. it seems IM gives value to those around me but provides ME with little value. am i missing something here? sure, there is some merit to making those around me more productive but in the end their output is a second order in terms of performance, its MY output that is most important to how i am measured.
so IM seems a lot like 'chat' when i was in school. chat was novel for awhile, but any rational person that needs info quick can pick up the phone and call me or send a quick email. i chatted with people on line for awhile, but when the novelty wore off and my finacnes improved and long distance fees dropped....just pick up the phone.
and as far as messenger, it seems email is more optimal IN MY SITUATION. not always, again, if i was tech support it would be fine. another time i think it would be valueble is if i was, for example, on a team working on a project like a new SDK or an API or something like that where somebody is trying to figure out who broke the build or if billy is in his office so he can stop by to talk about a new feature, etc. etc. email allows me to answer the questions asyncrhonously and when i am not in these situations.
anyway...thoughts???? maybe i'm not seeing some of the value.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
The Apprentice: Season 1
After finishing Lost: Season One I moved onto the Apprentice. This show ROCKS. a few lessons (perhaps remedial to some, but reinforced here with example): everybody has a set of strengths and weaknesses. do not forget this. nobody is flawless. this show allows us see how those people with the pretty smiles as you walk down the street can be downright evil…or stupid in many cases. I’d like to say it fails to amaze me how bad some of these people who hold these rather powerful sounding titles are so bad as leaders. And watching my own stereotypes coming to the fore. And who is left after 8 episodes? well, the good looking ones, imagine that? here, I’m reminded of what my good friend Mike always told me about work: those that have looks have it easier. who was the first person eliminated? the MD brainiac whose interpersonal skills rivaled that of a Chihuahua or the person I respect most: the girl, Kristi, with the long blond hair who took the fall and refused to respond in a negative way, refused to point the finger at her team, even after the grilling by Trump—SHE DID THE RIGHT THING. And perhaps Donald did the right thing: if the leader is willing to take the fall they have to take it, but she is demonstrated character beyond the others who are much less developed. Another interesting pint was that early on, when the teams were divided with men on one side and women on the other, that the women gravitated to using their sexuality to gain advantage. I was also surprised to see Donald give a slap on the wrist for this action…I am curious what would have happened had he not stepped in.
Some observations: When Donald talks, he is no bull. very straight shooter. remains quiet until what he has to say creates value, short circuits long winded defenses. the first show, the project manager made an interesting move from a game theory perspective when he chose two people: to ensure the right one was eliminated he picked a second that clearly had no business being chosen as a candidate for ‘firing’. I was disappointed when the boy from Idaho didn’t cross into a grey area, he simply DID THE WRONG THING when asked to follow the agreement he made to put the number of the unit he wanted to rent when they were discussing this issue, and even more disappointed later when he felt this action was okay. it is also NOT acceptable to pawn a person off as something they are not…it was implied by their actions he was some kind of hero. this one is more grey but come on…in the end we have to sleep with ourselves at night folks…would I bring it up as an idea? sure, but does it get implemented? hell no, this should not have been acceptable after scrutiny by the team. and the copy salesman…how could he not review the information on the client he was going to see? how? I just can’t fathom this if you want to make a sale. he’s a freakin’ salesman. maybe he has some ‘it doesn’t matter, sales are made from a person to a person’, but then again, he’s a copy salesman, and I have no idea how successful he is in RL (real life). its also interesting to see how elimination is a function of leadership traits, and that is how they are reviewed. even if you royally screw up something as tammy did several times, they were innocuous and it wasn’t until she didn’t hold the line and admitted being ‘duped’ that she was eliminated.
So, I’m about halfway through..let’s see how the rest of the shows go.
I haven’t had cable for about 4 years now. I’ve found this to be a relief. Previous to that I was quite the TV junkie. In fact, it was to the point I actually had multiple TVs going in the same room while doing other random surfing on the ‘innernet’. Recently I have been re-introduced to the weekly serial by renting them at the local Hollywood Video. I have made it through Season 1 of Lost which I found quite enjoyable. Making the island a character in the series turned the series into something very interesting. Given the writers fascination with star trek in their youth I expect the island to take on some science fiction-esqueness as it progresses. I think this was born out when the wandering invisible security guard was shown to be at least partially robotic (the mechanical arm sound as it grabbed a main character). its fun, and interesting to watch the flashbacks that dig into how people got here to this place. I don’t find this series as intellectually interesting as The Apprentice but I do find it entertaining.
I read an uninspiring book recently, Stranger than Fiction: True Stories. Chuck Chuck Chuck…you did so good with Fight Club that I thought I’d give you another shot. I read your ‘biography’ of Portland called Fugitives and Refugees, which was of interest to me and anybody else interested in the bowels of the beautiful city of Portland but was hardly a masterpiece. This book follows a similar trend of paying a writer disproportionate amounts of money for their stream of consciousness (excuse me, isn’t that what BLOGGING is for?). I am actually quite surprised its actually legal..i mean did an editor actually say this was good enough to kill a tree for? if you want my time I require more insight, more depth, and more critical thinking that this. I truly enjoyed fight club as a movie, and I got a kick out of Fugitives and Refugees. but this book is not good, and the funny thing is…the people in the book are not even that weird which would be the point of a book about things stranger than fiction. Here I share the intellectual climax:
"What's coming is a million new reasons not to live your life. you can deny your possibility to succeeed and bame it on something else. you can fight against everything--Margaret Thatcher, property owners, the urge to open tha door mid-flight...everything you pretend keeps you down. You can live Kierkegaard's inauthentic life. Or you can make what Kierkegaard called your Leap of Faith, where you stop living as a reaction to the circumstances and start living as a force for what you say should be."
0 out of 5 stars, not recommended. I’ve heard good things about Lullaby, and Chuck’s a Portland native, so I’ll give him another try. if fight club came out of this guy he’s got something up there and just didn’t show it this time.
Friday, September 23, 2005
The first virtual world virus?
"The trouble started when Blizzard programmers added a new instance, which is a separate area connected to the outside world that players can enter and attempt unique quests. One of these instances, Zul'Grub, contained the god of blood, Hakkar. Hakkar was a powerful foe that could cast spells of his own, including a spell called Corrupted Blood. This spell did a large amount of damage to any player within the vicinity of the casting, and the effects lingered on after the spell was over."
and then things get interesting...
"Some of the players who had gone into the instance emerged back into the main world of Azeroth, and started spreading the Corrupted Blood disease to others who they came into close contact with. The infection soon spread into many of the cities and towns in the virtual world. Since the disease was intended to be a danger to powerful players, it tended to kill those less than level 50 almost instantly."
Article written by Jeremy Reimer over at arstechnica.com
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Saturday, September 17, 2005
How does it work? well, they could us RF or IR and have a receiver measuring deltas in time of packets received at a receiver, but that is too expensive and not likely how they did it. Instead, its likely they put a potentiometer in the controller. A potentiometer is very cheap: 4 wires standing straight up within a liquid stuck onto the circuit board. As the liquid moves, the current across the 4 poles changes and you can detect roll, pitch, and yaw (position will likely be controlled with the standard d-pad on the top of the control). This info is transmitted via IR back to the console. So, with a $.50 device, Nintendo will open up new forms of gameplay. Don’t disappoint us Obi-wan.
A simple 2D example is shown above. As the liquid moves around the current on each of the two wires is measured and motion can be detected, the amount of change in current is proportional to the movement that has taken place. Technically, you can probably get away with only 3 poles in 3D, but for robustness there will probably be at least 4 poles, and maybe multiple potentiometers at the front and back of the controller, for example. Note, i'm just guessing on all of this :)
Many of you have already read about the new controller, and some of you likely saw the keynote at Tokyo Game Show when it was revealed (lucky dog). I want to say first of all: All remote controls in the past have sucked as game controllers. This idea itself is not new and has failed on multiple locations, most recently in the airplane. Nintendo has put an additional, all important spin to the device, and I really like it. Images on the web don’t do it justice, the video has to be seen to be believed (note: it’s a marketing video, not a technical disclosure): http://media.cube.ign.com/articles/651/651383/vids_1.html. Kudos to Nintendo for staying the course on making games that are fun first and putting graphics and performance secondary.
Friday, September 16, 2005
this weekend 3 friends and I headed up to an overnight backpacking trip to Jorn Lake. This was a trip to try out some of our new camping gear before the 8 week Australia/New Zealand adventure in February. It was also our first overnight camping experience.
It started out a bit rainy. okay okay, hail. yes, hail. what amazed me is everyone’s fortitude (people ruled by fear call this stupidity) to start off in the middle of a hail storm and head up 2,500 feet. along the way we stopped by Duffy Lake and another lake start starts with an M. It rained on us most of the way, but by the time we got to Jorn Lake it had cleared up and we found a beautiful campsite right on the waterfront. we had a fabulous dinner (some packs of dehydrated stuff that we added boiling water too….beef stroganoff or something like that).
on the way down we had an awesome day. ran into a hunter who walked with us…one of those guys who had been hiking the area since he was ‘yeah’ big (hand reaches out to side holds up about waist height). was a bit odd, walking down the trail with a guy with a gun in front of you. and the horses man…left the dung everywhere boy I tell you whut…
anyway, I’ll post some images here of the campsite and some of the views we saw along the way. afterwards, we enjoyed an awesome feast at the outback in gresham (something is better about going to the outback in gresham). the salad man...and the bloomin' onion...ohhhhh....
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Thursday, September 01, 2005
After the talk I went out to dinner with a Japanese co-worker who took me to an authentic Japanese restaurant. He ordered a bunch of different small dishes to try things. one of the things this restaurant specializes in is ‘sushi-chicken’. That’s right folks, raw chicken. and guess what it tastes like? you guessed right! they also give you a bit of ginger to put on it. now, I wouldn’t make a habit of eating it but I did have a second serving. we also had some delicious chicken balls. these were like meatballs but made with chicken roasted over a fire for a really flavorful taste. I also had a few other dishes and quite possibly the best fried tofu I’ve ever tasted! it was amazing, probably made fresh at the restaurant. on the left is the fried tofu and in the middle is the sliced chicken sashimi.
Yesterday I gave my talk to about 400 game Japanese game developers. A few firsts here: first time I had a talk that needed translation, first time to an audience of 400. the translation thing is cool. when I spoke the audience has headsets that are wirelessly transmitted a real-time translation. Then, when they asked questions, I put on a headset and I could hear the translation in real-time.
This morning I wore up and had a few hours before I had to catch my plane. I wandered around a few more areas of japan, still in admiration of their absolutely amazing public transportation system. Rappappongi hills was a very international area, probably ran into more English speakers there than anywhere else during my time in japan. Ginza is the large metropolitan area near my hotel, so I just wandered the streets for awhile, taking in the sights, smells, and sounds of each area. The images are taken near my hotel, these restaurants are all underneath the train tracks that snake along next to the hotel.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
okay, so here I sit at what is 5:30am Monday morning in Tokyo, and about 1:30pm in the afternoon of the previous day in Portland, OR. so, its entirely possible that you’re reading this before I finish writing it. The images above are of my hotel and an image looking out of my hotel window...i have one of the bay windows near the top (25th floor).
I’m here in Tokyo for the CEDEC 2005 conference. I will be speaking to game developers on how to thread their game engines for upcoming CPU architectures. I will also be presenting some case studies demonstrating these techniques. So far registration for the class is around 300, making the largest class I’ve ever presented to. Additionally, there will be a translator and I had to send my slide set out last Tuesday for translation and printing. now, that is all fine and dandy, but I usually don’t even start preparing a talk until a few days before and make changes until the last minute….so this has left me in a bit of a pickle. I’ve been told I will have to speak slowly so the translator can do the necessary rehash, so I’m hoping that my 60 minute talk will be able to fit into the 90 minutes slot with translation. I will also be visiting a few game developers since I’m already in the area in the next 3 days.
I left Portland on Friday and arrived here Saturday evening about 5pm. It was a direct flight, so that was very nice. I hopped off the plane and headed down to baggage claim, then off to see if I could find my way into the urbanity of Tokyo. I exchanged some money, using credit cards is a no-no here, pretty much impossible. I also grabbed a train ticket on JR (japan railways) to get into town. Lucky me, the train was boarding in 4 minutes, so I hurried down to grab my seat (car 8, row 1, seat B) for the one hour train ride. You might be wondering why I remember such trivia, and its because, within 60 minutes of being in Tokyo, I lost my cell phone, which is why I won’t be posting any pictures :( Now, obviously instinct is to blame somebody else, but this is Japan, one of the safest societies on the planet. but how is it that a person who has NEVER lost a phone in 6 years manages to lose it in 60 minutes in a region he can’t even make a phone call? yeah, that’s murphy’s law. so now I have to just suck it up and order a new one I guess. it should be there very soon after I return to pdx. but man, my new Motorola razr, ugh…(insert metal love ballad here).
the hotel and ginza
when I arrived in town and finally got settled after my 10 hours on a plane and 1 hour on a train I strolled around ginza and found some food. this part of town has lots of lights and action, lots of people around, and very very easy to just get lost, as I did in about an hour. finally I decided to jump in a cab to have him drive me back to the hotel. when I said ‘imperial hotel please’ he laughed, jumped out and pointed and said ‘two blocks, you walk faster’. I had basically been circling around and didn’t manage to see the 30 story hotel right in front of me! I’ll blame it on jet lag. and the loss of the cell phone of course.
I’m staying at the imperial hotel , just across the street from the imperial palace on the 25th floor. I have an amazing view of the city from here through 3 huge windows…its awesome. I’m watching the sunrise over the city now. (again, still jetlagged).
the subway, shinjuku, shibuya, akasaka
since I was wide awake around 4am yesterday (today too) i was one of the first to hit the subway station just outside the hotel. now, the subway system here is just incredible as anyone who has visited Tokyo will probably tell you. I was glad to be one of the first down the stairs so I could absorb the map and all the places you can go, etc. I’m guessing I stood there in front of the maps for about 45 minutes just trying to get my head wrapped around everything. by the end of the day I was jumping trains like a pro, and it really is something. I mean, these trains will take you all over, to tons of interesting places. and there are security guards/police around to help should you need it.
I visited the areas of Shinjuku and Shibuya as well as Akasaka. Shinjuku seems to be where lots of the young go to party and such. at 6am, many of them were still up and figuring out what to do with their day, still dressed in their party outfits from the night before. Shibuya was a bit more touristy with a more ‘big’ commercial feel in the air. If I have time before I leave I am told to visit Akihabra and the fist market. we’ll see if there is time for that later, for ht enet few days I have to focus on conference activity. Akasaka was where lots of government buildings and stuff was located. I did some filiming with the camcorder but didn’t bring a USB cable to pull off the images so it’ll have to wait until I return.
some food comments
had some sushi and some chicken katsu. food here is great! but fruit is hard to come by. i paid $3 for a pear at a fruit market. oh and at mcdonalds here, they have a sandwich that is a COMBINATION egg mcmuffin and a hamburger. seriously, its got a bun, egg, bacon, and a hamburger patty. its huge! no, I did not eat one, but man, it looks TASTY :)
Monday, August 22, 2005
time for some blog feedback: if a link exceeds column width warn poster could cause layout problems. oh well..enough for tonight.
google has updated their desktop search tool. i like what i see so far.
i checked out the template, i reposted...i created a post to see if it would trigger something to fix it....argh...do i REALLY want to spend time debugging the HTML to this thing....NO...well, maybe the problem will just go away if i ignore it. yeah...that sounds like good strategy.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
okay folks...i'm just going to connect the dots on a few things here.
- In the past month on two different occasions i pulled into gas stations in urban areas and they were out of gas...yes, OUT OF GAS. this has not happened except on rare occassions in my driving lifetime. nobody has talked about a gasoline shortage for US consumers. yet.
- Several airlines in the past few weeks in the southwest had a jet fuel shortage. an article about this is here: "Airports in San Diego, nearby Ontario, Phoenix, Reno, the Florida destinations of Orlando and Tampa, and several small cities admitted last week that they're scrambling to find jet fuel. Some of those airports this summer have come within hours of running out." it becomes more than a local problem because they re-route traffic to get fuel from other places in the emergency or have the fuel driven to the airport from other local airports, but then those places have a shortage...vis a vis. my concern here is three-fold: one, mounting evidence we need more refining capacity. second, that the system is so tightly coupled that there is no room for error in the supply chain (ramifications of just in time inventory control systems), third is an issue of safety, especially on international flights. if there is a shortage, to what extent will the airlines go to minimize cost/disruption? note the recent case where british airways had planes where the engines went out and they continued the flight. from cbsnewyork.com (link removed to fix blog formatting issues), check out topstories and search for flight 268: "The decision not to return Flight 268 after the engine lost power raised concerns about a new European Union law which requires European carriers to reimburse passengers for substantial delays." how far will they go to maximize profit at the risk of public safety? (answer: as far as customers let them). my concern is not this particular instance, where they still had 3 out of 4 engines, its that the airline expressed a willingness to continue the flight at an increased risk to the point that merely having stronger headwinds also forced an early landing. what if those headwinds extended for a longer period of time?
[end of post has been deleted for unknown reasons]
thanks mom!! awesome gift!
i got a very cool gift recently. it is a water purifier for backpacking (in preparation for a trip to australia and new zealand next year). the coolest thing about this technological marvel is it purifies 32 ounces of water in 90 seconds!!! Previously i was looking at the MSR pens, etc. that require chemicals for water treatment, but this zaps the DNA of the bacteria rendering them harmless:
from the http://www.prolitegear.com/steri_pen.html web site:
Steri-PEN is the only portable water purifier that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy waterborne microbes. Whether your source is a woodland brook or an overseas hotel tap, SteriPEN sterilizes clear water by destroying viruses, bacteria and protozoaÂincluding Giardia and CryptosporidiumÂin seconds. Carry a SteriPEN to disinfect water wherever you travel, hike, camp or trek. ItÂs the fastest route to pure, safe drinking water anywhere.
can't wait to give it a whirl. now i can actually drink the water in hillsboro!
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
here, larry shows us some new dance moves on the DDR pads as he competes against jaime's feet for the grand prize!
yesterday a few of the gang (around 10 folks) came over for some amazing dinner, some cake, and conversation to celebrate my birth.
afterwards, there was a DDR (dance dance revolution)throwdown.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
kim, my former manager extraordinare, posted this crazy video.
today the gang got up at the bright and early to haul tail downtown for the annual portland bridge pedal. the basic idea is that you and 18,000 others get a chance to bike across the bridges in portland. this year was a special treat: all 10 bridges were bikable on a 35 mile journey. I’m now in a favorite local hangout downtown, stumptown coffee, licking my wounds hoping I’ll be able to walk home afterwards. each year more and more folks seem to sign up, and this year was insane with a log jam of folks at the first few bridges forcing us to walk across them :(. rides like this, with so many people so close together, especially with inexperienced rides, can be a bit more dangerous than one would like.
in one area we were supposed to ride a long section called the springwater corridor down to the sellwood bridge, but there was such a log jam we decided to jump up to the street for a little detour. it turned out to be just the right move.....we even stopped off at a little coffee shop (grand central baking) for pastries and coffee before continuing the journey!
everyone had fun, then just to add a bit of punishment decided to meet over at the lucky lab (BACK across the bridge!) for a little afternoon snack. ugh…so by the time I got home I was NASTY smelling. fun time was had by all.
on the left, the crazy line of people having to WALK the bikes across the bridge.
on the right a picture of the gang waiting for something.....
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Remote Control Humans by NTT
One of the absolutely coolest things at SIGGRAPH this year was in the emerging technologies area. it was a device that stimulated your vestibular system by delivering small amounts of electric current behind your ears, called galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS). And yes, it allows you to control a person’s movement. I know this because, after signing a waiver, I was able to actually try it out. first, I cleaned off the back of my ears and applied a bit of water. Then I put on a pair of headphone like devices. I was also given a small remote that permitted me to turn down the amplification of the current should it hurt. After getting into the gear, you stand up and walk forward and the staff in the booth proceed to turn you left and right while you try to walk straight. It was crazy!! the thing was, you couldn’t fight it…your body would just turn. Contrary to the ‘you will not experience any discomfort’ it actually stung a bit behind my ears, kinda like when you lick a 9-volt battery. Click here to see video of a remotely controlled person.
This is fun!
Saturday, August 06, 2005
the first week of August I spent in los angeles at the 23rd annual ACM SIGGRAPH conference, otherwise known as the International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques. a few observations of conferences: from the outside, it looks like its about going to the industry talks, and the show floor to see the latest commercial products. for me, I spend a lot more time in hallway conversations and random run-ins in hotel lobbies discussing industry and career passions than I do in the presentations. this is not to say I don’t spend time in the sessions or the show floor because there is plenty of that, but, especially at SIGGRAPH, there are many, many people to talk to about lots of issues. many of those folks are friends of mine from grad school, most of which are still in the industry to the point that we have an annual reunion at the conference.
siggraph observations at 30,000 ft: quieter than previous years, smaller show floor, felt a bit more serious than in the past. while the proceedings have grown in thickness over the years, I feel the quality of papers are still very high. the quality of the presentations also attest to that fact. one of the best was Michael deering’s paper in which he literally is trying to simulate the lower level visual system. the title of the paper is 'A Photon Accurate Model of the Human Eye' to do this, he grew an eye using some previously published work and showed the results of the simulation which grew all of the rods and cones in the proper distribution in the eye. fascinating stuff. far too much cool stuff and not enough time to read it, research it, or implement it.
the VR work is gone from SIGGRAPH, and it appears for the most part the game developers are going to GDC. for a short period of time in the last 90's, early 2000's, their was a larger crossover.
going to SIGGRAPH is always like a recharge for me, seeing just how big the universe of graphics is and how much there is left to explore!
most interesting to me was some work by EA Research folks on ocean waves and their implementation using PCA (piecewise component analysis) able to greatly compress the dataset necessary for deep ocean simulation.
Friday, July 29, 2005
and I can see it, sitting right before me is one of those decisions…door #1 holds more travel, more ‘career growth’ and more exposure. door #2 holds those things I hold dear that its so easy to lose a grip on in these times. people close to me have noticed my absence, and notice it myself. BEING THERE IS NOT BEING THERE, and that was the creeping sensation I have been feeling on my back. but I know when I look into her eyes, that my absence has taken a toll, and is changing things in ways I do not want. and so I must fix it.
so I made some decisions over the weekend, on my trip to the water rafting town of Maupin, Oregon. and I made a few more on my trip to the ghost town in the eastern Oregon desert. and on the trip to seattle. I am appreciative of this time to contemplate my mistakes, for it will allow me to minimize them in the future.
I will take my priorities seriously: these are my friends, my family, and most of all those who depend on me. i love my work and would like to continue to do it constructively. and I must grow in new ways, ways that I have neglected, and this will allow both my relationships and my work to flourish in the way i desire.
I am glad I was raised the way I was….and to a large degree moved by heroes in hollywood. we can all choose who and what to worship, and contrary to popular belief they do give us things to aspire to along with the rest of the junk they toss at middle america. its about the courage and willingness to fight the odds of Rocky, the ability to perceive deeper in Dune, vice in excess in Requiem for a Dream, belief in the seemingly impossible in Creator. these things all burn inside you, like tattoos on your soul, and they shape you for the future. later, you recall these moments of time, these snapshots, and draw upon them for decisions that you must make as a man.
Freakonomics, by Stephen J. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.
I read a relatively new book over my trip to Virginia and haven’t had time to jot down my thoughts. it seems this economist has taken the world by storm and found several phenomena that he has drawn a variety of conclusions that seem sensible at first. however, upon thinking about them, I start to wonder. for example, the sumo wrestlers cheating…could it be that the guy who had no chance to win the tournament just naturally reacted to this news and behaved a bit different than he would have? is it all that weird that people that come from uneducated backgrounds and are pumped priorities by capitalist messaging that they demonstrate willingness to subject themselves to financial duress in the hopes of extraordinary financial reward (hello….try grad school, its like the army but you work for the military several degrees removed). it’s the same freakin’ thing and I’m not at all surprised they make minimum wage at the bottom.
I guess in a way, I feel like I’ve been duped. and I’ve read this type of thing before. it’s a persuasive essay, and it’s the same style that C.S. Lewis used in Mere Chrisitanity. he explains things from his side and you’re just so swept away by the writers linguistic acumen that reviewers fail to use actual judgment in rendering a decision.
it was an interesting perspective, and an interesting read, but I find myself wanting of a critical dissection of several sections of his observations. captivitating me doesn’t mean I believe you. but I respect you, and it does mean I will listen to your side of the argument.
yes, good to read, but skeptically.
3 out of 5 stars
The full title is Its all Politics: Winning in a world where hard work and talent aren't enough, by Katherine Kelly Reardon, Ph.D.
I wish I read this book about 7 years ago. too young and I would have failed to understand its significance, but after 7 years at the same place with the mentors I have had (you all know who you are), the information contained in this book has been internalized through experience. this is not to say its not worth the read or to have on one’s bookshelf as a refresher. in summary, the author contends that it is not what you know but it is who you know and how you relate to others that will have a greater effect on your success. based on my experience she is correct, and I’ve seen it in action. working at a large high tech firm I see absolutely brilliant people who are passed over because they lack political savvy. sometimes, this is an active choice, in others it is a motivational choice. the certain thing is that those who make thinking politically part of their lives generally have more success than those that don’t.
this book is written for people who are just starting out their careers or who have gone to public school and have noticed their career growth not as rapid as their peers. all the private school kids know this stuff already. and if you think you are going to make it on your technical talent alone, you are wrong and should listen to the dr.
one surprise in this book is the end. most business books end up being a few ideas in the first 20 pages, then beaten to death and double spaced to occupy an entire 200 pages. this author actually has some of her strongest and most useful writing for EVERYONE in the last 2 chapters of the book which I would recommend to EVERYONE and make it worth the purchase price and reading time. the rest of the book is a skim for those that have been around awhile but great stuff for the beginner type A who played too many video games as a kid.
3.5 out of 5.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Monday, July 25, 2005
we spent the weekend of july 23rd/24th mountain biking in bend, oregon. this is a shot of the crew after the first day hanging out at one of our favorite spots to go before heading back up to the campsite and crashing hard. there were over 10 of us, and everyone was in bed before 10:30 after our ride through phil's trail system!
this is the first photo posted with my new RAZR camera phone! i transferred it successfully using a bluetooth connection to my IBM T40 laptop. took about 10-15 minutes of googling and help systems to get it working. much better images tan the older 320x200 phones.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
bought myself a new black Motorola razr last week. I really invested in an entire slew of communication tools. since my previous 3 phones have all been nokia, IÂm very invested in their product lines and had to make the transition to the new phone, so hereÂs the breakdown:
$199 for the phone (I got a $50 credit by asking, so i actually paid $149)
$99 Motorola HS105 headset (works great so far, $20 rebate right now)
$25 for a car charger
$25 for a charger to keep with me for travel
$25 for a nice little case IÂll use for awhile
so basically, I had to shell our around $375 to make this transition seamless as possible. however, steep learning curve, new phone, new bells and whistles, etc.
now, as I mentioned, the phone is absolute gorgeous and feels wonderful in your hand. I haven't yet figured out all the features, and there is some stupid AOL instant messenger stuff built into the phone, wired right into my start screen (how annoying can that be, and I thought this was supposed to be a status symbol...AOL?) anyway, the phone has been quite a conversation piece, as should any new piece of technology until the next coolest phone comes along in 2 months to knock this one down into the heap of progress in a throw away society.
the camera: I love the camera. now, I just have one with me in my pocket, I can just use whenever I feel. its empowering. and this is a full 640x480 image which is pretty darned cool.
the Bluetooth headset: so far, seems to work very well. the other day I was in a conference call for work and I was able to wander around my condo and leave the phone on the table in another room and it worked great. that was impressive. and to dial, its sweet, you can just push a button on the phone and say a previously recorded string (usually the persons name) into the phone and it will dial them. no more looking through the phone book, very excited about this feature. true, many phones have had this, but I just figured out speed dial on my last phone about 6 months ago so I am a late adopter of the voice activated technology. as I can tell this phone can stay inside my pocket while the headset can be the only device used for general calling purposes.
I still need to figure out how to xfer the images on the phone to my computer or over the phone's network. IÂll post some images later once I figure that out.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
7-11 middleburg, va:
in one small town in northern Virginia around exit 27 on interstate 66, we enter a small town. there’s not much going on there, which is part of its charm. I notice the rotund woman who runs the 7-11 as she spruces up the coffee area and we engage in small talk about the flavors they offer along with the various tools of personalization—various powders and liquids to dump into your mug to hide the taste of your coffee. it struck me, that me and this lady, we’re able to engage in dialog for 10 minutes, when we seemingly have nothing in common but coffee. like spectating sports for the simple minded, coffee is some kind of substance, like einstein’s ether, that allows us to travel across our sociological separation to find something in common. I see two young kids behind the counter, representatives of the future: register 1 is a bored teen who had previously explained to the older heavyset woman what activities were involved in closing the store the night before. register 2 contains the white boy rapper persona: speaking quickly but with long pauses in between his sentences, southern accentuated rapper boy goes into what he was up to last night with the mop and all, you know G.
at the 7-11, its just been so long since I’ve hung out in a convenience store, I think I spent 20 minutes in there…just soaking in the culture there. so many people wandering in from the neighborhood. when I was a kid in indiana the store was called quality quick and it was right down the street. we used to hang out there, grab ourselves a few 25cent little Debbie snacks (can you still believe they are a quarter???) and harass the employee. was open 24 hours, which means we could sneak out at 2am and wander down there and chat with the folks who stop by. most often it was teens buying smokes. they sold LOTS of twinkies and snack cakes too, and later in life we would find out why.
just outside the 7-11: two homosexual black males sitting in their mini van trying to find their way on a map (the homosexuality presumed by their public displays of affection). out in the street, car drives by with the dukes of hazard horn which goes off twice…America is fusing this tension together, the melting pot as dynamic as it ever was, and me…I’m off to spend the night in a house where nobody is home and the owners I’ve never met. all I’ve got is a combination to the garage door and a warning to not let the dogs out when I go in. in the morning, and I still don’t know the name of this hospitable suburbanite in northern Virginia, but if you’re out there, whoever you are…thanks!
travels at the 1763 inn in upperville, va (july 4, 2005) :
spent last night in a little inn in western virginia about 20 minutes from the w. va. border. turns out the inn was formerly owned by george Washington. western va. is beautiful. its quiet too. none of the suburban sprawl and traffic that permeates northern/eastern D.C. area. Apparently, we were instructed by the caretakers that the room had a resident field mouse that was not to be disturbed. anyway, it was a nice quiet place there, with a pond and everything, actually built in 1763. this place had character. no tv’s in the room (sweet) but a tiny little fridge in the bathroom. water came from the well out back…we were a long way from any sort of public water works potential. its exactly the kind of place one can wander to regroup and recharge. works been kinda insane lately, with my manager deciding to take another opportunity along with some other members of the team being out for one reason or another. I really only seem to feel I need a vacation about once every couple years, and this was one of those vacations, and the timing couldn’t be better since we just finished the mid year review process. anyway, having a few days out in the country like this is very relaxing.
during the day I took a short 4 mile run down the street here. its was more challenging than I anticipated, immediately developed a blister on my foot L. I hope this does not impact later running adventures.
Thursday, June 30, 2005
for some time i avoided getting a blog because i just couldn't understand the value, and quite frankly couldn't understand why i'd want to put my thoughts 'out there' for people to read. i mean, why would anybody want to read or care to read what i had to say about anything. with so many voices out there, what do I have to differentiate myself and add value to the global conversation? wouldn’t it be just noise?
i was recently in a conversation with a friend of mine over vanilla lattes at a local coffee shop, and we were discussing corporate blogging, blogging policies, etc. and chatting about his blogging experience. during this conversation was that critical moment: the point he said 'i've gotten more out of it than i've put into it'. ahh…..an investment with positive dividends. and thus, my pragmatic midwestern mindset evolved to appreciate the blogsphere. perhaps it won't bear fruit, but i suspect, given the similarities in our personalities and passions, the likelihood is very high i too will gain value greater than the investment.
another important reason is to stay in touch with all those folks out there who i may have lost touch with or who i talk with all too infrequently who have made an influence upon my life. as we get older, the days get shorter, and the time to keep up with those we care about just slip into some vortex humanity has yet to fully grasp. so this space is for you: family, friends, to come and see what I’m up to when I don’t call back right away. so when you find yourself interested in finding out what’s going on in my life, take a stroll through these pages and post your thoughts.
and it is my hope, that here, in my little corner of cyberspace, we will go deeper…