Sunday, August 28, 2005

Travel to Tokyo....and the missing RAZR

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.

the trip
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

fixed blog :) apparently you don't want to use links that are really long like cause if its too long it can't word wrap and thus scrwed up my page.

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.

broken blog :(

so...the blog is broken...see, on the RHS (right hand side) the stuff is supposed to be there....but now its at the bottom...oh dear...what do i do?

i checked out the template, i reposted...i created a post to see if it would trigger something to fix 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

gasoline shortages coming?

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 (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]

photo album birthday gift..

my mother made me a very cool photo album for my birthday this year. she had collected up a bunch of photos from the time i was born, and a ton of other artifacts from my childhood and put them together in an photo album. the pages were all decorated with turtles and such as well, it was very craft. it was great fun (and kinda moving) to work through the book, remembering teachers, kindergarten classmates, and comments on the back of report cards. 'doesn't take direction well', 'tends to march to the beat of his own drummer', 'lacks self control'. yeah, prophetic. a couple of the last images (which i will post when i get a chance to hit up a scanner) are of great grandparents and relatives, some of which ran the kitchen at an old logging camp. another photo is of my great great grandmother who was native american. to my knowledge, this is only one of two photographs in our possession that she appears.

thanks mom!! awesome gift!

new toy! steri-lite pen

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 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 protozoa—including Giardia and Cryptosporidium—in seconds. Carry a SteriPEN to disinfect water wherever you travel, hike, camp or trek. It’s 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

Birthday Bash!

in the foreground, dave is deep in thought as he watches the DDR competition. in the background, ross flirts with kari. i think doug was watching the DDR showdown.

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

some crazy noobs!

this was sent to me by one of the ace game engineers in my team. its a bunch of videos shot by some guys (i think they're canadian but not sure). for hard core game geeks only:

kim, my former manager extraordinare, posted this crazy video.

2005 portland bridge pedal

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...

Emerging Technologies
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.

cool european geography game...

this was sent to me by a good friend, its a very cool european geography game:

This is fun!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

new photo

just sticking a new photo of me on the page...

travels to LA for SIGGRAPH 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!

travels to seattle for meltdown 2005

the 3rd week of July I spent in seattle for the Microsoft Meltdown 2005 conference. Seattle is a great town. since I’ve spent a good deal of time there since moving to the pacific northwest I feel very comfortable wandering about. favorite places including pike market, victrola café, elysian brewing, Bauhaus, and the asteroid café.

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.