Monday, December 31, 2007

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

I know many of you are eagerly awaiting Boxing Day, but some of us are content with a nice relaxing Christmas day. Presents are nearly open. Family has been mostly called. Internet occasionally has been working.

So far Michelle has talked to all her family. I will likely talk to my family tonight once they get back from other family stuff. Miranda has been opening presents like crazy and loving it. Although it is funny when she finds a toy she likes, you can ask her to open more presents, but all you get is vigorous head shaking and a quiet little no.

It might be disconcerting for some but we have been avoiding the whole Santa thing. I think we are better off just telling Miranda what the holiday means and to say that the presents from from those that we love and love us. I think that is better than Santa.

But here is to the start of an excellent day and fun times spent with my small little family. May all of you have a great and wonderful Christmas.

momcam 357

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I am not dead

I swear I will make a real post sometime this weekend. If you want to blame anything, blame the video games. When Miranda is awake it is time to play, but when she goes to bed... I tend to game.

Speaking of which, if you have a 360 and don't have Crackdown, you should pick it up cause it is only $20 at Amazon. (See previous posts...)

$20! Seriously, get it.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Review: Call of Duty 4

So recently I purchased Call of Duty 4 based upon the reviews of Tycho and my friend MatchesMMalone. Let me say that the Multiplayer mode had me hooked right away. The role playing game aspects of experience leading to new abilities and new weapons is really addicting as the leveling up is not tedious in the early levels and really addicting as you bring new weapons into play. Basically as you progress through the multiplayer game you have experience affecting your rank and personal abilities, along with unlocking new sets of challenges. Challenges are ways of increasing rank more quickly as you get experience bonuses for accomplishing a challenge. One challenge would be to kill 5 enemies while in the crouched position or perhaps to call in 5 UAVs. Then there are also specific challenges associated with each weapon in the game. By completing these challenges, you not only get experience but you can acquire new camouflage for the guns or new scopes and capabilities.

So multiplayer aside, there is a great single player campaign here as well, but it is missing a multiplayer coop mode that would have made this absolutely stellar. The single player campaign puts you in the shoes of 3 separate soldiers with specific objectives to meet. The missions are well scripted (much to the same degree that the missions in Halo 3 or other Call of Duty games are well scripted), the story is well told and missions range from easy to fun to challenging without getting to terribly annoying. I ran through the game on Hardened difficulty and really got stuck in only a couple of places where I spent ungodly amounts of reloads attempting to accomplish the mission. But the ending is satisfying and spectacular and very anti-climatic.

So based on this, the multiplayer aspects alone would warrant getting this game, but add in a fun, exciting (~6 hours) single player mode and I think we have a winner.

Where have I been?

Well, it seems that I took a long break from posting. I don't count the flash post as I was just playing with one of the Amazon associate widgets. They are written in flash and I was curious about how they looked on a web page. Now I know.

As hit the national news, large chunks of the Pacific Northwest ended up underwater. Luckily, we avoided that, although we did get a large amount of rain, there are advantages to living near the top of a hill although one could worry about mudslides. Nope, we made out ok.

Mostly I have had a few house guests. John "MatchesMMalone" Knight spent a few days with us as he was out for work. He got a tour of a couple of facilities at Microsoft as well as doing some speaking at the University of Portland. But wait he wasn't all. My parents came out for a week as well to spend time with their granddaughter.

Overall it was fun. We had a cookout while John was here so that we could get together some ex-Whirlpool folks for reminiscing. But I also got my butt kicked playing Risk. Never fight a land war in Asia.

friends in town

Past that my parents, wife and daughter spent time traveling the area while I took off a couple of days to hang out with them as well. One of the days we made it down to the newly renovated Seattle Aquarium. They have really done a great job with it and Miranda had a blast. Also caught some lunch at Ivar's Acres of Clams which was excellent.

Otherwise it was just a week of visit with friends and family (not to mention all the cleaning leading up to it) and just had a relaxing time.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I am thankful for many things, first and foremost that the day is nearly over and I get some rest. Wow is it a busy day.

We followed the lead of last year and invited the Vassigh family over for the daily feast. It was lots of fun and it is great to see Ali, Steph and Darius again. No pictures this year. Had too much fun to remember the camera.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

House guests

Well, I haven't posted much lately because we have been prepping the house for some guests that will be staying with us the first weekend of December. Mr. Knight aka MatchesMMalone will be visiting the PacNW as well as my parents. So along with that, I needed to make sure we had enough sleeping berths for everyone. So Michelle picked out a new bed and we have been turning my office into the fourth bedroom. I can pleasantly say that the office is clean (which is the first time since I finished drywalling, mudding, painting, and carpeting this room) and now has a bed in it. The worst part about it was just the shear amount of stuff that was scattered about in here. We really have some filing to do now and to decide what papers gets shredded (old stuff) and what we keep (new stuff).

Next to do is move the bed from our room to the guest bedroom in preparations for the arrival of a new bed next week. So I have to say that I have had a pretty productive weekend. Oh, and I really haven't slept.

And with that I believe that some coffee is in order.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Computer...

Well, I have to say that it feels weird still to have a fast computer again. The effect it's had on what I do with my computer is still nill. I still check email. I still surf the net. Although, I can do so with ease and speed. The biggest surprise to me so far in these intervening years is how fast USB 2.0 is compared to it's previous versions. Pretty pathetic huh?

That being said, working with photographs is now much more of a joy. And I am looking forward to trying out some of the PC only games that I have missed out on, specifically Spore.

I am not sold on Vista. I ended up turning off most of the Aero improvements. I don't need fancy stuff when I use the computer. I made it look like good old Win95. I am ok with that. More it is just easier for me find things. I may switch it back when I feel like monkeying with it, but I see these things as very utilitarian.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Cork Dorks

Given that I am not a connoisseur, but try to be one, I found this article on the Subjectivity of Wine to be pretty cool. Most of the time, I tend to keep my classification simply to drinkable and not drinkable. The second part of my analysis hits on day two with the size of my headache.

Will talk about my new PC later.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Misc post

Couple things have happened lately. First, I am likely to do nanowrimo this year, but I have firm beliefs that I won't finish it. I just want to do it to practice writing, but in no way will feel obligated to complete the 50k words in a single month. Mostly to do so would risk time with family and I don't want to do that. In such, I am going to try using one of the online office programs as I am replacing my desktop computer.

I recently got a Zune, mostly cause it was cheap, and partly because I wanted a media player. The device arrived yesterday, but due to gaming, I just set it to charging and played for a while. Once I was done gaming, I started the whole installation process. Now I would like to say that I feel like I am handy at computers, I have cobbled together many machines and have limped many along for a while. This installation process left me with tons of wasted time. First off this is a gen-1 zune and I figured my 4+ year old desktop would suffice for it's media connection. Wrong. The Zune may say that it works with USB 1.0 but that is a lie. I spent 3 hours trying to install the software in such a way as to work with my device and at the end of that, I pulled out my 3 year old laptop with a broken power plug and installed it on that. But the problem is that it is a 1.4GHz Centrino which translates to slow. So today, I did some bargain computer shopping while waiting during installations and have purchased a HP Pavilion M9040N Elite Desktop PC. Usually I order Dell, but due to the fact that lately I have noticed more and more troubles with Dells (over the last 3 years) and coupled with a decent amount of machine for the price, I went with the HP. The real drawback I see here is that it has Vista. Sigh.

Along with this Zune purchase, I was also under the incorrect assumption that it could possibly work with Amazon Unbox since I have a couple of shows downloaded that I have not watched. Again, I am disappointed. Sorry Microsoft, but when I buy a player from you, I expect it to work with Plays for Sure. Yes, if I would have done some research I would have realized this. Shame on me. But this DRM thing is really screwing with the consumer. I mean, damn it, I want to spend my money with you fuckers, but I do and ... and ... and you punch me in the face.

(I lost in the beatdown again! I need to switch to boxer.)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Nanowrimo

Well, we have finally reached November. Now I need to decide if I am going to do National Novel Writing Month. I have done this in the past as in before Miranda. I am not sure if I am up for it though.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Back from Oootaw

utah_05

miranda 036

Well we are back from Salt Lake City and our visit with Ben and Karen (and 4 kitties). It was lots of fun. Miranda seemed to do passably well on the airplane, but it was only a 2 hour flight so we weren't really pushing it. In fact, I think any longer and we would have been in trouble. But it was fun seeing friends that now live in a lonely part of the world.

We did our routine match of Munchkin (Cthulu) along with some gaming on the DS and knitting (although you can guess who was doing what). Sleeping was interesting. Miranda slept great, we didn't as we heard all of her tossing and turning. Honestly, I didn't think you could run a marathon in your sleep but now have to reconsider my assessment.

I got to watch part of the Lions victory (woo-hoo) even though watching football makes Karen break out in hives. Also Ben introduced me to Portal which might have to be the coolest game I have run across in a long time. The graphics were great and the music was fantastic, but the real killer is that it is a first person puzzle game. Really makes you think through a lot of the levels. So that is my stamp of approval. Lots of thinking, lots of fun (the voice acting and script are fantastic) and it just makes for an enjoyable 4 hours.

As for the Lions... well, they were not stellar on every play but overall they made each drive on offense and defense strategically important to the game. They made the Bears work for long stuff while going soft on the short and I have to say that I was very impressed with the defensive line while there were a few breakdowns on the offensive line. But they were going against the Bears.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

10 minute draft timer

Thank goodness. Last years draft (which I watched all of) and this years draft (which I watched all of) took way to long. Finally they are going only have the first 2 rounds on day one and they are shortening the time to make the pick (which I think will lead to more Minnesota type draft day snafus).

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Family tries

Well we pass through a few weeks since I last did a family update. Everyone's fine. Yup. Miranda had her 18 month checkup and the doc is pleased with the weight she has regained and with the motor skills. Also Miranda went to the pumpkin farm on the same day and thoroughly enjoyed playing in the mud puddles.

I'm doing ok and Michelle seems to be doing ok. We survived the windstorm. We've been playing way too much puzzle quest on xbla. Michelle is doing a bunch of alternative cooking where she puts pureed vegetables in various things (meatloaf, cookies, mac and cheese, brownies) and to be honest it is pretty good. I can definitely say that I could use the additional vegetables, so big win for Michelle. Miranda is still picky, but occasionally decides she will gorge...

Lately I have been reading Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. Great book. The book centers around a book called Cryptonomicon and the families that have had a heavy involvement in it, covering both modern day and WWII. The writing is excellent and engaging and the characters are interesting. Once I get further I will put up a review but I have been working on it for about 2 weeks and am only half way through.

Finished Ringworld by Larry Niven and found it to be good and interesting, but at the same point it did not grab me and make me read till I couldn't keep my eyes open. The story of a vast engineering marvel created by an advanced civilization that doesn't seem to be around anymore in any great numbers, while the science was good, the characters were neat but not great or compelling. As I try to increase my reading base, I figured this was a book I needed to read although, I am thinking I should have read The Mote in God's Eye instead, although I may read that at a later time.

Next up on my reading list is Speaker for the Dead (Ender, Book 2) by Orson Scott Card, although I may insert Ender's Game (Ender, Book 1) before it as I haven't read the first book in the series in about 8 years so maybe I should brush up on the story... Either way I am looking forward to reading some OSC.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why George?

Dear owner of the Star Wars franchise,

I have been dumb enough to purchase many things that are part of this extensive franchise over the years. Some have been pretty good like the original trilogy and the Bioware games based on the license, but some have been just plain bad like some of the various books using the same recycled plotline or perhaps the Darth Vader voice helmet. I am really saddened by how much you have taken something that was iconic in our childhood and used that lovely nostalgic feeling to drain our bank accounts and destroy a memory. Sometimes tighter quality control can help, but sometimes it is just better to STOP.

Thank you,
Aaron

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

More on the mini music revolution....

Jeff Townes aka DJ Jazzy Jeff talks about his views on the digital music movement. It is interesting to see other artists talking about what music means and what the recording industry is trying to go through. One of statements:
As a result of his commitment to understanding the digital space his revenues from being a DJ have seen a dramatic increase now that he practically gives his music away for free and focuses on "super-serving" his customer with an "experience" vs just selling plastic discs. (Sounds very Long Tail right?) He is the first to say, "Music should be free, the experience is what you should be paying for"

is interesting especially if you have had a chance to the read the book, The Experience Economy. People pay will pay more for better experiences. Does that mean that music is now a commodity and all we are seeing is the industry fighting that fact. A fact that many other industries have had to face?


*** UPDATED: I removed the link. For some odd reason it was empty. I don't think I posted it empty. But maybe I did. Either way, my searching the net did not bring up the article :(

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

So, Amazon's not evil, right?

So it is kinda weird that I am writing this given I work for them, and to be honest, I don't think they are evil. However some believe we are near enough. Recently Amazon released digital music downloads sans DRM. This is definitely something I have been very passionate about. All the DRM solutions just seemed so damn hard just to listen to music that I spent money to listen to. Not to mention that the RIAA's view that I should feel privileged to even listen to these great <accent type="french">artists</accent> that they have tied to them. Where as I have felt that the Record companies should feel honored I decided to spend money with them for a non-essential purchase. Be honest, music doesn't sit up there with food, housing, heat, etc. Being an amateur musician (sorry if it isn't great) at one point, I know that getting paid for created content is important, but at the same point as a performer, it was much more important that people who want to listen to my stuff should not be inconvenienced.

So it becomes very interesting to me when Ian Rodgers of Yahoo! Music talks about MP3s and Amazon in a recent presentation. Excerpt from the presentation:

But now, eight years later, Amazon’s finally done what was clearly the right solution in 1999. Music in the format that people actually want it in, with a Web-based experience that’s simple and works with any device. I bought tracks from Amazon (Kevin Drew and No Age), downloaded them, sync’d them to my new iPod Nano, and had them playing in my home audio system (Control 4) in less than five minutes. PRAISE JESUS. It only took 8 years.


And I get even more excited when two of my favorite bands decide to connect in a more directly with their fans by going without a music label. Hey artists, you need to do this. I am more likely to give you money for your work than the suits and paying for them to prosecute music lovers, albeit some that are really guilty. Put it out there, I will buy it. Make it easy and I will buy it. Because in the end, even though it does not stand up there with food, housing, heat, etc, it still has some magic way of touching us and moving us in good ways.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Review: Halo 3

Maybe I should support subtitles. You know something along the lines of Halo 3, now with uber-nerd helmet. That is exactly the edition that I bought. First off the helmet is surprisingly good quality and about the size of a regulation volleyball. Unfortunately, the design has the inside of the helmet be a 3 inch by 6 inch slot, which makes it not able to fit on anything really but the base. There goes my plans to have Master Cat with a kick-butt helmet on. I am sure Tigger is happier because of this.

Alright, enough of my banter, tell me about the game.

I have read a number of review sites that either say one of two things. Either it walks on water and turns water into poptarts, or people find it ok and actually a bit turned off by the hype. So to set the story straight, I can say that if you have not played the first 2, then you will likely fall on the it's ok standpoint. If however you have played both Halo 1 and Halo2, then you will likely feel that this one walks on water. Basically this falls into the category of run of the mill first person shooter where you go out and kill aliens and zombies. However, if you have played through the whole story you will discover a depth here that many games don't have. There are novels that go further. Entire games that exist in the same universe that expound on the backstory (see Marathon). It really is a good story of the end of the world and one super soldiers fight through it. Sound like a movie you have seen? Even if it does, Bungie has captured the essence feeling like the star of an action movie. You feel like Arnold Schwarzenegger during the movie Commando. Except killing aliens and zombies instead of taking out rogue mercenaries.

Some of the improvements are better party capabilities for multiplayer mode, tweaks to weapon capabilities, more vehicles (I personally like the new human flight vehicle), as well as just gorgeous textures and graphics.

Ratings:
  • For those that have played both previous games: 5 out of 5
  • For those that have not played either: 3 out of 5

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Kalaloch Lodge

Well I am home sick after a thoroughly fun trip to the Olympic Peninsula. We decided to take a trip with both the Vassigh and Dykstra families over to the Pacific Ocean and the Kalaloch Lodge where we got a two family cabin for the weekend. The more surprising part is you got two xbox addicts to leave their boxes alone at home on halo3 launch weekend. But I digress. It was fun and it was great to see the kids play in the surf even if they got stuck inside on day 2 because of classic PacNW fall rain. So rather than tell you about it, there are loads of pictures you can look at.

One of my faves....

kalaloch 244

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Halo 3

Wooooo!




Wooooooo!



Ok. I can say the multiplayer is fun, but haven't really tried single player yet.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Software: Optimized compilers and Moore's law

Joel, fromJoel on Software, recently talked about how software strategies should include features additions as opposed to optimizations. I recommend reading this article mostly because Joel is a pretty good writer, but I will attempt to distill his points.

  • People buy features and things that do jobs for them
  • People are unlikely to buy super slow software
  • Features and software take time to build
  • Hardware gets faster according to Moore's Law
  • Time spent optimizing code and trimming features is time not spent building new features
  • If you like optimizing, build an engine or a compiler since optimization is the feature

I think that covers it. The part I am not in total agreement on is his points around NewSDK. First off, you need to be able to identify NewSDK before you can port your apps to it, because it does not make sense to port to one that isn't going to be the DefinitiveSDK and porting to all PotentialXSDK is plain a waste of time. But when the DefinitiveSDK is found/created/agreed upon, build it ye shall. Errrr, you should really hop on that wagon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

If Trent says it, it must be ok

Article on Slashdot

I haven't read the whole interview so it is likely out of context. But it seems that Trent Reznor believes CDs are too expensive. It is interesting to here someone in the music industry say that. From what little I looked into manufacturing costs, I can see where the big ones are turning over enormous profits. They just want them to grow more. Only really they are hurting the artists and then in turn hurting the fans.

Especially you Sony. Keep your damn rootkit off of my PC.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

Social Networking...

From the sounds of it, social networking is little more than digitally removing fleas and ticks from our allies fur...

How social can we get?

I will not pontificate on the value of facebook, myspace, orkut, or any of that lot. If people use it, it will survive. I have found it useful to me on one occasion. I guess that is good enough.

Wow. I feel old... and fat



I thought I was really tanned / burnt, but turned out that this was grease paint from when I played J.B. in the play J.B.

So this would be 1998/99.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Review or Rant: NCAA Football 08 Online Experience

Alright I already reviewed one mode of NCAA 08 for the xbox 360. Everything with the game was going super well in terms of playability. The menus were never great but you just eventually deal with them. Some complaints.

  1. Why do I have to save? Shouldn't this be automatic?
  2. Why do I have confirm that I want to save? I pushed the hardest to push damn button on the controller, I really want to save.
  3. How can I quickly get my depth chart from the recruiting menu?
  4. Why, oh why, is it so slow to navigate the menus (see more in my later section)
  5. Why is it so slow to switch guys before the snap?


So last night, I tried the online experience. First off, the lag is completely unbearable. If you haven't played the single player game a lot you are at a disadvantage. You have to retain your originally timing because of the lag in what is shown on screen. Punting and kicking is damn near impossible. Pass timing as well is extremely difficult. The voice chat is garbled. I get disconnected from games frequently. Just a horrible experience. Not to mention in play selection for defense, I tend to like to gear my defense to the offensive personnel. This is impossible, because by the time I see the personnel, I have 12 seconds to find my play. Normally not a problem. But online, the menus are so slow, I rarely can get to page 3 of a play listing. For those keeping track that is 5 button pushes in 12 seconds is near impossible. So EA, get your crap together before you ship out a game, or don't even bother to add online capabilities.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Silly girl

Well, while Michelle and were cleaning the house a couple of days ago, we handed Miranda the xbox controller. It seemed like a perfectly harmless thing to do as normally she just randomly click buttons and she navigates the menus of Carcassonne or Solitaire. However this time she bought 1600 point from xbox live. This cost $20. I think I may want to parental control this if I can.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Lions predictions....

Well, I might as well...




versusoutcomecomment
at OaklandLions winBeating Oakland during this stage of their development should be easy. They are rebuilding
MinnesotaVikings winThe Viking defense will be too much for the Lions. In addition, the run game will eventually just wear out the Lion D.
at PhiladelphiaEagles winAn Eagle team that is not far out of the race from being the Conference champion will have some troubles with the Lion offence, but in the end stopping McNabb and Westbrook will leave the Lions short of the win.
ChicagoBears winThe Lions shutdown the anemic Bears offense, but unfortunately the Bear defense scores more than the Lion offense.
at WashingtonLions winThe Lions D steps up and does its job. The hold the Redskins to 21 points, while the Lion offense racks up 39. All in field goals.
byeNo one winLions bearily beat no body.
Tampa BayLions winThis is probably the best game of the year for the Lions. This will be one of those games where you wonder why the Lions aren't a contender. Then you realize you are watching them play Tampa Bay.
at ChicagoBears winSee previous Bears comments as the same crap will happen again.
DenverBroncos winThe Broncos run game perfectly sets up the pass game as the Broncos D, particularly Bly with 3 INTs, shut down the Lions' offense.
at ArizonaLions winIn general, this is a close one where the total score is over 100 pts.
NY GiantsLions winEli forgets where the end zone is. Either of them for the matter, and only scores for the Lions in the form of a safety. Kitna is injured. There goes the season. Of course I never thought I would say that in regards to Kitna.
Green BayPackers winFarve has stellar game at Detroit. Sets touchdown record.
at MinnesotaVikings winThe Lions put up a bigger fight again, but without Kitna the timing offense of Martz is completely screwed.
DallasCowboys winRomo, Romo, Romo and the blitzing D of the Cowboys.
at San DiegoChargers winEven though the game is meaningless for the Chargers as they have locked the division, the backup players still kill the Lions.
Kansas CityChiefs winLJ LJ LJ. Even with the upgraded run D, the common theme this year is using the run game to setup the pass game against a depleted secondary.
at Green BayLions winGreen Bay was out of the playoff run so they bench Farve (as management could give a rat's ass about a legend) and the Lions completely shut down Rodgers.


All that said we are looking at a record of 6-10. The best record we have had in years!!! Go Lions. Make me proud.

Weird game name...

Sometimes I wonder where they get the game names that they have.

Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Detroit Lions Preseason Recap

Alright, I feel behind in my analysis of the game facts for the Lions. This all is of course leading to my predictions on the year for my beloved team.

Cleveland vs Detroit

Pros
  • 101 rushing yards
  • 0 sacks
  • 2 INTs
  • 2 Sacks

Cons
  • Still can't get it in the end zone.

Indianapolis vs Detroit

Pros
  • 3 sacks
  • Gave up 1 sack

Cons
  • 32 yards on the ground
  • 2 Fumbles
  • 2 INTs

Buffalo vs Detroit

Pros
  • Hanson hit a 51 yarder

Cons
  • 73 Rushing yards
  • Gave up 2 sacks
  • Got 0 sacks
  • 27% 3rd down
  • 30% 3rd down


Overall it just looks like it is going to be a rough year (like every year) to be a Lions fan. The team can't find the end zone, can't convert on 3rd down, and can't stop a balanced offensive attack. There are flashes of brilliance, but Kitna prediction of double digit wins in laughable.

However, these are not the starters, but at the same point, they are likely to be the starters due to injury issues. I don't know. It is hard to constantly bad mouth a team you hope, so desperately, will get close to .500 in a given year. I just don't see this as the year.

Monday, August 27, 2007

PAX07

Wow.

Another fun year. I really wish it was not over. So I guess I can put down how it went. The first day Ben, Jason, and I spent a great deal of time hanging out in the main theater area. But we started out in a smaller room where we caught the end of handheld gaming. Really it seems that the focus is how do the small developer shops survive in relationship to the large publishers. Seems like a pretty scary industry to be in, but if you really love all things games, then maybe it is for you. I will stick with playing.

Next we moved to the main room and watched the keynote address as given by Wil Wheaton aka Wesley Crusher of Star Trek: TNG fame. We followed that up by watching the Q&A session with Mike and Jerry (Gabe and Tycho). Both of these session were super entertaining. Wil gave very passionate address on gaming is about socializing, about coming together with others just to have fun and compete. That those who say that it is an anti-social behavior are just plain wrong. If you want to listen to it, there is a link from Wil's page.

Mike and Jerry were great as well. I have been reading Penny Arcade for many years and this is the 3rd PAX I have been to, but this was the first time I got to listen to them. They were pretty much up to answering any question (which there were very, very diverse questions). They kept it moving pretty good and only harassed a few of the questioners.

Then they brought on their super secret guest speaker, Uwe Boll. This is where I felt totally ashamed of the behavior of the games, especially after Wil pleaded his case to "not be a dick". Uwe has made a number of movies that were based on games. Very, very loosely based on games and generally not the best of movies. This has left a number of gamers with a bad taste in their mouth and after watching clips of his next movie Postal, they proceeded to spit on him (figuratively). I want to first give him credit for coming in front of a hostile crowd and presenting what he works on and why. I however could not stay for all of it as I couldn't take the way people were behaving. All I can say is that it is a good thing that Jack Thompson didn't come. That would have been worse.

We grabbed a little dinner and tried to listen to Girls and Games. That session was super packed as they tried to talk about what games would appeal more to woman gamers and how to increase the number of them that would play games. What was more interesting was actually the Pictochat session going on at the same time. (Pictochat is a chat program for the Nintendo DS allowing 16 people to chat wireless via text and pictures). Alot of the people were bringing up some very relevant discussion points and a little snide commentary. It would be awesome if this were some how projected on the wall to show others what is going on. If only we could filter all the drawings of penises...

We next played a rousing game of Pink Godzilla Dev Kit where Ben won again. He is super cutthroat. Then we had to run to catch the last half of the session on Episodic Gaming with talks given buy Valve/Steam as well as the Sam and Max serial currently going on. I personally see this as the way things will end up going, just from the fact that development tends to have higher success rates with smaller scoped projects. Plus publishers will make MORE MONEY in episodic content than they will in traditional one shot deals. Overall this was an excellent session with good questions and points about developer pain, project timelines and return on investment. As a note, if you quit playing half life content cause it is too hard, Valve knows this (via Steam) and keeps metrics as to how many people are quitting at certain points and how many times they die. Would love to see this info...

With that we wrapped up day one.

Day two saw us getting to the Washington State Convention center super early so that a) we could get parking and b) we could get the wrist bands to get into the concert that night. First thing we did upon getting through the 3/4 mile long line was go hang out in the exhibition hall for a few hours. I ended up buying some Merch and playing some cool demos. Most of the big players were they talking about upcoming games as well as some companies showing off their game engines. I got a chance to try out Geometry Wars on the Wii as well as a ton of other games. I don't think I could really do justice to all I got to see and do and will let the other game blogs talk about the exhibition hall. Although I do have to say that the new Midnight Club due out next year looked absolutely fantastic. Probably one of the most gorgeous games I saw there.

Jason and Ben went and watched the Red vs. Blue panel (which I caught the end of) while I went in to stand in line to get a signed copy of Jonathan Coulton Thing a week project CD set. The dude was super cool and nice. If you are in to the acoustic guitar folk, then this is definitely your type of CD. He really has a fantastic voice and really interesting lyrics covering a series of geek and non-geek topics.

After catching the end of the Red vs. Blue panel, we stayed on for the real reason for being at the main theater again. We got to see live game footage of Assassin's Creed video game. Luckily we had a game developer with us (Ben) to damper our enthusiasm over wonderfully scripted fighting sequences and absolutely gorgeous environments. This could be a fantastic game. Or it could flop. I am leaning toward fantastic.

We then grabbed some lunch, played some Ninja Burger (I won!) and Citadels (Ben won and then I won). Grabbed some dinner and then played Mario Kart DS while we waited to get into the evening concert.

So we find out that the stupid wristbands didn't actually mean a thing. The convention center really wasn't setup to handle the traffic movement so it was moot. I am really totally ok with that. So we got to watch a round of the Omegathon (gaming competition). First Mike, Jerry, and company came out and rocked out with Rock Band to Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi. Was super awesome and they totally nailed the song. Of course this was a precursor to the Omeganauts have to compete as two teams playing Creep. One team really dominated the other team. Impressed by the game overall, but still suffering from a little sticker shock.

Finally we get to the concert where Jonathan Coulton, MC Frontalot, and the Minibosses are playing. Jonathan totally rocked the place. A ton of folks around me were commenting about how much they loved it (and kept asking who it was). To be honest, it was why I was there. Next they had MC Frontalot, nerdcore rapper. It took a while for him to warm up the crowd as the music was drastically different in feel. Overall not my cup of tea, but there was some interesting music there. I have to say his bass player really impressed me. Finally, we got to the minibosses which is what Jason was waiting for. We made it through song 3 (Castlevania) when we decided to head home being tired and thoroughly deaf. They had the music a tad too loud as the speakers were distorting heavily.

Overall, I will be going back again next year, so no one make plans with me for the last weekend of August, unless you are planning on hanging out a big gaming geek party with me.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

PAX07: a quickie

Well, thought I would get in a quick post before I head out again on another expedition into Seattle. Thought I would share a couple of things:



And:

pax07 007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I guess I drink swill

I just want coffee when I get in, but others seem to have higher standards.

Little bit of a picture fix

We have house guests, so updates are a little sparse. But figured I would toss on some Miranda photos.

miranda 043

miranda 020

Sunday, August 12, 2007

CSS and Divs...

Well I started playing around with my blog design again... and about all I ended up changing was the colors. I really tried to change all my tables into Div block elements, but I just have a natural tendency to rely on tables. I have spent 2 hours today playing with using Divs but am tired of trying to figure out why there is a space between my title div and my entry div.

--------------------
| Title |
--------------------
REMOVE ME!!!
--------------------
| blah blah blah |
| blah blah blah |
| blah blah blah |
--------------------

This color scheme was based on two things. One, I did not want to recreate all my images for the header and footer bars. Two, I used Colorjack Sphere to help pick out my colors. Color deficiencies are not just for the people using the site, but for the designer too. I couldn't be sure that the colors I picked would look good (without constant badgering my wife). Using this I was able to pick a starting color (my images) and then get up to 5 other colors that could work with it in a pleasing manner.

Around the house

Figured I haven't done my normal family type update in a while. Miranda is 16 months today. Eating and sleeping are still fighting points. We are still waiting for Miranda to start talking to reduce the amount of "point and grunt" (tm) that goes on. As for motor skills, she is doing great. She runs like a pro and is really starting to bring her knees up higher when she moves. She has been doing some puzzles with shaped animal blocks on a wooden board. Really the main sticking point is the sleeping and eating.

For our standard nutrition right now it is 20-30 oz. of Pediasure and whole milk. We add in some fruit (handful of blueberries or dried pineapple/strawberry/whatever) and some crackers which makes up for the whole day. We, of course, offer a very wide variety of food (last night she took a couple bites of pizza and she also ate a couple handfuls of mac and cheese) but most of the time she is not interested. Same goes for non-Pediasured liquids.

Sleep-wise she has gotten in habit of waking up twice in the night and the second time she really refuses to go back down so Michelle has gotten in the habit of letting her sleep in bed with her, just to get a couple more hours. It's a fight. It took me 2 hours last night to get her to sleep. And leaving her in the crib just doesn't work. After all the work to get food in the stomach, she gets super upset and throws up all over me.

miranda 024

But she is growing and developing so... it's ok. Who knows, this might just be teething.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Lions first preseason game...

First off a link to the Box Score. Unfortunately, I did not get to see this, but I do have some opinions on what I see in the stats.

Pros
  • O-line only let up one sack (although it was the starters)
  • 497 passing yards
  • 4 sacks and an interception for the Defense

Cons
  • 2 picks given away
  • Duckett gives up the fumble
  • 59 rushing yards


We shall see how this turns out.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Martz says the darnedest things

From the article Johnson will get plenty of playing time against Bengals:

"We're going to see him a lot in this game," Martz said Tuesday. "We're going to see him a lot in the preseason -- he's got to learn how to play in this league. We're going to wear his little froggy rear-end out."


Froggy rear-end?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Upcoming Xbox Live Arcade games...

Xbox Live Arcade is increasing it's available games, which is definitely a good thing. I have been very impressed so far with the games to date and always looking for new ones to try and buy.

Of particular note is Hexic 2 and Puzzle Quest, while I tried Marathon: Durandal and Spyglass Board Games both of which I was not impressed by.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I don't get Facebook

Andrej recently posted on how young people are using social networks which really helps articulate some of my experience with them. I totally understand personal webpages, but we you start talking all these friends and friend invites, it just didn't make sense. I don't get the Wall idea. I can see what someone wrote on my friend's wall but I can't see their response. I may have the same question, does that mean they have to do the same for me? It is just confusing. Give me a bunch of close friends, real blogs with comments, and a tool to aggregate RSS and I am a happy camper.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions

Well the deal finally got done (after missing a number of days of training camp) and now all the Lions draft picks are signed. As much fun as the NFL has made the draft, the contract negotiations following the draft have been a point of pain for me. First off, the draft still is and always will be a sort of gambling. You are playing your odds with the number of picks you have on the available talent. You are guaranteed to have busts, but you hope that they are lower down the draft board, because if you bust on a first rounder, you have lost approximately $15 million in cap room for the next year or possible $12 million the following year for releasing a player.

These rookies are all gambles. Anyone of the players in the draft could turn out to not be able to make the transition to the pros. At the same point, some who you would not expect to flourish, will. So why are the teams paying early rounders millions in guaranteed money when they have not played a down? Why not just set a salary cap on each pick in the draft set by the NFL. Make it flexible enough that the agents and teams can still work out deals in there using incentives and what not, but make the guarantees not be so terminally high. This is what destroys parity in the NFL. (I also know bad GMs and coaches destroy parity as well)

Right now, I really feel bad for the Cleveland Browns. They moved up on draft day to pick up Brady Quinn (so they lost some draft picks) at pick 22. But Quinn is now refusing to come under contract for anything less that top 10 money essentially missing all of training camp. At this rate, he is likely to miss all of preseason and is therefore a bust this year, although you really aren't paying him yet. But come on, do you really expect to be paid the same as pick 21? Ridiculous.

So my message to the NFL is put some sort of system in place for signing rookies that actually is able to make preseason fun again, instead of the pain of watching these highly touted players feel like pampered babies.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Congratulations Cat and A.J.

Well now I am an uncle. So congratulations to my sis-in-law Cat and her hubbie, AJ, on the birth of their little one Daniel Paul.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Review: Campus Legend mode in NCAA Football 08

So I recently picked up NCAA Football 08 for the Xbox 360. Normally I just dig right into the dynasty mode expecting to lose a few games learning the particulars of the game engine, but this time I started by trying out some of the other features. First I tried the minigames of Tug of War (you get 1 play to move the ball and then the opponent gets the same, first to touchdown wins) and also Bowling (10 yards to goal, each yard is a pin with two shots at the end zone).

Next I moved on to Campus Legend Mode. And to be honest it is good enough that I have not left it. First you start out by designing a player and picking a position for them. Next you select your home school and state (high school that is) and you get put right into the high school state playoffs. I picked ROLB to start with figuring that defense is a good place for me. So first off, the only person you can control is the player you have created, so many plays are just not going to involve you. Although there is a lot more pressure because when you blow a coverage or tackle you can't switch to another nearby player to make the tackle. Once you have completed the high school playoffs, you have to select the college that you want to go to. In my case I picked Penn State because I would not be a starter, but I also wouldn't be 3rd string.

Your college career consists of 2 things per day. First is practice where you get 10 reps at various plays (coach calls all plays in both practices and real games). When you make a play it is worth points. These points eventually will earn you a spot on the starting line. For me, I earned my starting spot right before the 3rd game in the season. The different strings make it interesting in the game as well. When you are second string, you are hoping for a blow out so that you can get some field time other than on special teams, where as you hope for a close one during regular play.

One of the nice things in this mode, and frustrating is that the games tend to be really short. This gets a tad annoying as the load times in this game are incredibly long. Another drawback to this mode is that you may play your heart out and do an incredible job, but the team could still lose because the other half of the team is unable to get the job done. Besides the long load times, I have also seen a lot of very screen stutters and lots of xbox 360 fan and drive noise. Just seems to be slightly too intensive.

Graphics wise, this game is good, but not really something you are going to shout from the mountain tops about. Sounds are incredible and after 9 games, I can't complain about the announcers yet. So with all the problems, I still give this game a must buy for Football fans. It is just as fun as it's previous versions (I have played NCAA 01, 04, and 05).

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Review: Harry Potter 7

I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) yesterday and have been mulling over how I was going to give this review without giving anything away. I am pretty sure I can do, but really don't know if this will be at all useful.

I found this book to be on par with the most recent set of books in the series written by J. K. Rowling. As I read through we went through slow portions (about 150 pages in the front half of the book) as well as areas completed chocked full of action and critical events. Reading through, I found there were many times that I could not stand any of the characters and other times where the characters would do endearing things things and I really appreciate that as it gives the main characters some depth of making their own mind instead of being the saints that everyone thinks they are. If I had to fault any of the time spent on the characters, it is the lack of Draco Malfoy. His character is missed in much of the book as the previous antagonist, playing completely second fiddle to the unadulterated evil of Voldemort. In fact you spend so much time with the main three that you might even get a little tired of them.

So in the end, this is a fitting conclusion to a series that bordered on serious and silly, but created a rich world that you could almost believe in.

Google Tech Talk: Inbox Zero

Basically a method of not living your life out of your email inbox and instead start creating systems to run your life (less detraction...)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter 7

Unlike the majority of folks who have purchased Harry Potter 7, I have not completed it yet. But so far it has been an enjoyable read, but I do have some criticisms. So far, I have noticed some pretty wild fluctuations in the intelligence of the characters and/or assumptions by the author of the intelligence of the readers. To be honest, I think J. K. Rowling did better with the younger books as they were tight and focused.

That being said, it isn't a bad book. Just I have recently read a bunch of books that have been written better, so I think my bar has raised a bit.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

PAX here I come

Yesterday, my tickets to the Penny Arcade Expo arrived with there usual set of game advertisements. Heading into my third visit to the Expo I am pretty excited. I will miss their previous location at Meydenbauer hall but I think the bigger venue is also a good thing.

Yeah!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Lions ranked above Cowboys

And it could be the biggest insult around, according to one blogger. I love the parity of the NFL but there seems to be a rather large range of parity.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

See ya Parents...

Well two weeks with my parents is at a close. Even thought the title of the post may not seem like I enjoyed it, I really did. We went out and did things. Ate well. Just spent time talking. There were a couple of extra hands to handle Miranda. Overall it was pretty cool and I can't wait for more family to visit.

They also went out and spent a couple of days on the Olympic Peninsula. They took some gorgeous photos while out there. Definitely looks like I will take a trip out there to stay the night some time. Just would be nice to do.

miranda with Grandma and Grandpa D

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Detroit Lions 3-13 again

I saw a blogger wrote about the Lions upcoming season and I really can't flaw the logic. Somehow I wish the Lions would pull their record up above .500 but like a child punished for exuberance, I just can't seriously think they will ever top 6 wins.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

1 hour with Forza 2 for Xbox 360

So far, I have put about an hour into playing Forza 2 on the recommendation of JOT3. I tried the demo and really, really didn't like it, but Jim was very persistent that it really was a good game. I found the demo to be very heavy on the simulation side and lacked the learning progression of dealing with a games physics engine. However this is not the case in the real game. The real game has enjoyment built in from the get go. The physics are heavy simulation but you are eased into the game with easier AI drivers and with slower cars. Plus at some level you can tweak the tuning of the car to more fit your driving style.

The car and driver level progression is pretty neat. Access to better parts and cars is always fun. So right now, I give this a definite must play, as I really want to take the day off of work and play.

Though this should be a note to the developers, don't create a demo that could potentially turn off a segment of the buying population unless you are accurately representing the game...

Friday, July 06, 2007

Long time in posting

We've been a tad busy of late. My parents arrived in town last Saturday and we bummed around the first day. To be honest, I don't remember what we did on Saturday. Probably bummed around some more. Although Saturday night, we had our first real boo-boo for Miranda. She was running around and tripped on her feet and fell into the magazine rack. Split her lip open, but a little soap and water with a dose of a Popsicle and everything was all right.

facial mishap_3

I had to work on Monday and Tuesday but everyone else headed out to Saltwater park and also the Weyerhaeuser Botanical Garden. Don't have any pictures loaded of this yet.

Wednesday, we sat and enjoyed the fabulous weather we have been having playing with Miranda outside and in the water. I grilled some salmon along with green beens and asparagus. Unfortunately I took off a good portion of my arm hair in the process. I think sometimes I just have bad luck with fire.

miranda on the fourth_5

And finally yesterday we made out way down to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. Miranda seemed to have a great time, although I think she spent more time staring at the other kids than looking at the animals. We got a couple of shots of the zoo. I really do recommend it. It is small but really the perfect size for anyone with kids. Later one we headed to the Supermall in Auburn and then called it a night.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Centralpark? LCD/Radio/Anything on a Side by side Fridge?

I am not sure if I can credit this to my friend, John. Either way, a dockable refrigerator is something I have been a proponent of. If this is yours, John, congratulations.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Facebook

Seems facebook got a ton of publicity with their recent addition of an external api as well as offering to those outside of college. Some other's think that face book could fall flat.

You'd think I have a ton to write about...

Not much really has been happening. I did the deck project last weekend. This weekend I was going to do some pruning and then paint the picnic table. Well, I started to paint the picnic table and realized that I had not bought paint. Or least one with very little pigment. Turns out that I had bought polyurethane. This isn't bad, but not something I had planned for. So now, I need to run to Lowes and pick up white paint when then leads to a couple of future projects around the house as well. If I run to Lowes today, I should pick up a couple of ceiling vents for the bathrooms as well as pick up some PVC pipe to create a sensory table for Miranda.

So once I have the white paint, then I can apply the polyurethane so my table can last forever. In fact, I think that I need to sand the table again so that the surface is rough enough to pick up a paint coat.

Miranda is still Miranda. Eating is getting better. Sleeping is getting better. I am pretty sure it will never reach "perfect". Just have to keep stimulating her. Yesterday I flipped on the radio which didn't exactly make her happy. I am not sure what she was looking for but... that was not it. I guess she doesn't like U2.

As for reading, I have finished 3 John Scalzi books, Old Man's War, The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony. These books are definitely in the fun range of Science Fiction reading. They tended toward a slightly light form of science, with a smattering of politics. I think Andy would enjoy them. I might even be tempted to call it Heinlein light. Except it really isn't watered downed like light beer. Just light and airy.

Otherwise, I have recently picked up Accelerando by Charles Stross. I am just starting so I really don't have much to say yet.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Welcome Summer

Well the first day of summer was absolutely gorgeous. Here are to many more.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

iPhone ... heh.

Somehow this strikes me as funny. I am not certain I know anyone who is that violently pro-Apple. But anytime you can distill down the world of Apple from the view of someone who could give a rat's ass about Apple... I appreciate that.

Here's to the iPhone sucking!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

landscape deck 4

Well, my second Father's Day, and I can definitely say I am exhausted. Miranda has been going like crazy today (with some downtime for crying...). I was also able install some safety lattice work on the back deck rail to keep Miranda from falling through. Overall, I am pretty happy. Just finished talking to my Dad to wish him a happy Father's Day. It sounded like he had a good day as well (my brother stopped into town to visit).

Michelle made me Irish stew, which was awesome. I had made some cappuccino scones the night before which were really good (not as good as specialty bakery, but I try).

May happy wishes go out to Jeff, Jay, and Dan who are all celebrating 1st and 2nd father's days.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Free game...

So last night I tried out Aegis Wing, which was developed by a bunch of interns at Microsoft. I should say that I tried it out for the second time. The first time I tried it, I was not impressed. It seemed quite difficult and not really compelling. Last night though, I got to team of with AlphaCog and wife, as well as JOT3 and it suddenly got much more compelling. This is a game that is utterly dependent on the multi player, for one to make it even feasible and two that it can be a very social game where you can team up to form your own version of Voltron.

So if you don't have it, get it, if you have an Xbox 360. And send me a message, it will be fun.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Another rainy weekend

Yesterday, was just another rainy day in the Pacific Northwest. That's fine. It helps things stay green out this way considering we haven't really had that much rain this spring. It seems like the start of winter got a lot of rain, but it really has just been gray since.

Miranda seems to be getting her second top front tooth. It is slow going and has caused her irritation since Thursday night. So she has been a tad whiny and sometimes outright upset. Feeding during these times is in serious not cool.

Oh yeah, a big congratulations go out to Jaimee and Dan the Man on the birth of their child, Madison Elizabeth. She was born Thursday, June 7th at 3:53 pm weighing in at 6 lb, 11 oz and 20 inches in length. And that folks is the tale of the tape... Of course this is all from the person in high school that swore that it would be a cold day in hell before she had a kid :).

Friday, June 08, 2007

Amanda started it...

You Are Apple Red

You're never one to take life too seriously, and because of it, you're a ton of fun.
And although you have a great sense of humor, you are never superficial.
Deep and caring, you do like to get to the core of people - to understand them well.
However, any probing you do is light hearted and fun, sometimes causing people to misjudge you.


And...

You Are 20% Evil

You are good. So good, that you make evil people squirm.
Just remember, you may need to turn to the dark side to get what you want!



All as seen on Amanda's blog.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Misc Miranda post

Argh, I hate teething. I wish that there was some magic cure to teething, but right now with one tooth coming in every two months, it is going slowly and she is not enjoying it. Overall, she is vocalizing a bit more and moving like a pro. This week saw the addition of climbing to her set of tools, which has completely destroyed any hope of my turning my xbox on again.

Unless she is asleep.

And then I am usually asleep.

So how do they have so much energy especially when they should be using it to grow and all those other amazing early things? I think they had it right in the Matrix when they harnessed humans to create energy. I mean stare at a 15 month old and tell me that is not a completely renewable source of power.

So as a video, here is one of Miranda reading her book to me...

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Backyard landscaping...

Well, we knew that we wanted to get some landscaping done in the backyard prior to the cookout we had recently. I managed to find all the pictures that I had created in regards to this project. It is not perfect, but should give you an idea of the progression.

June 20th, 2006
backyard_again

May 24th, 2007
backyard_project_in_progress

May 25th, 2007
backyard_in_progress

May 28th, 2007
backyard_is_done

And there we have it. Currently love it and enjoy our backyard much more, although I am still looking for some extra muscle to help me move the bench swing to the round patio.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Dave visit + random

Well, one of my fellow troupers from MTU, Dave. Found out he was out here in Seattle and we finally worked out a time to hang out and chat. We went to Pizzeria Fondi and had the excellent Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza, Margherita Pizza and a pitcher of the Fondi Lager. Delicious all around!!! Dave seemed to have fun and he had Miranda laughing hysterically.

Thanks for everything Dave!

Also, I saw on George R. R. Martin's blog that he did a book talk in second life. Much more interesting is that he went as Tyrion the Imp. I like the "slip" that Tyrion would fly. Does he end up riding a dragon?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Heatwave '07, kinda

I don't really think it was a heatwave. It was more of an unusual spike in temperature that caused everyone to be a tad uncomfortable in the Pacific Northwest. For a single day, that is.

So Miranda got to try out her new Dora the explorer sprinkler and she was not at all happy about it. I don't know if Michelle got any pictures but she might have. If she did, I will post them up for all to see. Also decided that I would bring up our Whirlpool Portable Air Conditioner and try it out. Installation was a bear and the instructions were pretty horrible. But once installed, it worked like a charm. A 90lb charm that I had to lug up the stairs.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

An attempt on large scale entertainment

How can people do entertaining? If you know, could you tell me? That being said, I think it turned out well. We had (including us) 9 adults and 2 children. I think I made enough food for 30 people though. Food turned out good. I think I was being a little to over critical of my pork tenderloin and ribs. The ribs I had were good, but a little on the chewy side. The sides were mostly store bought and what others could bring along.

So in the past, when we would go to summer family gatherings, I would be stationed at the grill doing the cooking letting who ever wanted to chat with me, swing over. Not to mention it was usually burgers, brats, and dogs so if you wanted it piping hot, or specially cooked, you had to come see me. This time, I was doing much slower cook items. In the smoker, I started 2 3lb pork loins at about 11am which I pulled off the smoker around 3pm. At about noon, I added 2 3lb pork spare ribs. For some reason the ribs caused the smoking process to be inhibited slightly. In the grill, I had 3 additional 3-4lb racks of ribs. These sat on the grill from about 1:30 to 2:30. Side wise, Michelle had me covered since I felt near wits end just trying to balance these large, slow cooking items.

During this time, though I felt less able to talk. I am thinking next time that we try this to go with the old standby of burgers, brats, and dogs (we will include some vegetarian options for those of that inclination). Otherwise, between cleaning, cooking, and tracking a very speedy 1 year old, I felt a tad hurried. I really hope all that could attend, had a good time. I know I really did enjoy the company.

As for Miranda, she was a complete doll. Started a little shy, but slowly opened up and had some fun. Landscaping was done about 3:30pm and looks great. As with all functions, I forgot to take pictures. Sigh.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Heh!

First of the link to The Great Pyramid of Agile. This article was fairly amusing. Covers many of the issues of good platforms/architectures. Also takes into account that agile allows for many deviations from the original plan (basically an allowable form of scope-creep if you ask me).

As for the cases of failure, the answer is overwhelmingly, "of course it didn’t work; the project didn’t have enough good people."


This is of course followed with:

Good people can build good software no matter what methodology they use.


I think though that one of the things they miss that agile gives you the opportunity to do is fail fast. This is a tremendous advantage in helping predict paths features that customers won't find useful and to also determine when a particular technical path is the wrong way. But knowing this, if you decided you need to scale or need a platform, you are talking now of a major undertaking that won't really fit in the "Agile" world.

So if I were to say what the best software development process would be, I have to say that it has to be something that results in quick iterations for the design and experiment phase which would be followed by a planning process to convert this prototype into something becomes maintainable and meets more rigorous production requirements. Maintainability is key. Along with good documentation.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Halo 3 beta redux

Since I didn't sign an NDA on this I assume we are good talk. Although, I am not one to tempt fate, so I will not be talking in any specifics. Overall, I am having fun. There is little difference between Halo 2 and Halo 3. That is a pretty bad sticking point for someone the folks in my clan that think the graphics are so first gen Microsoft console... Not really a sticking point for me. It is fun and that is what matters.

I would like a better lobby though. It feels not friendly... Not sure how else to describe it. We all show up, and pray that they don't start matchmaking because once the party leader does, then those outside the party have to wait. Not very good. To be honest, I would be willing to wait or better yet just be a spectator on a match. Well, here's to future improvements!

misc 058

Thursday, May 17, 2007

That is what friends are for

It looks like some pictures of me from one of my college plays has surfaced again on the web. In particular, Princess Blogonoke's site is not holding pictures of me playing Virgil from Bus Stop. Although, I never did know that people questioned the moustache.

Most of those pictures bring back excellent memories. Of all that though, I always feel a tad down that I did not take all the plays that I worked with seriously. Whenever I was given leeway with the dialog, I tended to foul it up and move it out of character. So in that sense, it is bittersweet. But there are so many more good memories and thoroughly fun times that I can sometimes forget I said, "I am too busy scratching myself."

Loading Halo 3 Beta

Thank you Bungie.

love, Reverend0

Monday, May 14, 2007

Miranda chilling with Dad

misc 108

Miranda finally cut a top tooth which puts at a grand total of 3 teeth. She is still whining a bit, so I am wondering if she is cutting another one.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wil "Freakin'" Wheaton

It looks like Wil Wheaton will be speaking at the Penny Arcade Expo. Maybe I should get him to sign my Wesley Crusher picture a second time. Maybe he will sign it as the evil Wil Wheaton?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Picture of Miranda

Noticed it had been a while since I posted a picture of Miranda...


miranda 051

Basically she has decided that she wants to have her own seat. We were down in the family room, she saw her old bouncy seat and just climbed and sat for a while. We really never put her in it when she was a baby, but now she is interested in it.

Lakeshore takes first in regional Botball competition!!!

I got the call from Jason and John on Saturday telling mention of their win. (I can't link directly to his May 5th post because his site is broken...)

<snip>
Lakeshore BotBall Team Takes Home First Place in Midwest Regionals

First Place in Documentation
First Place in Double-Elimination Competition
Third Place in Seed Round
First Place OVERALL for Midwest Region!!!!!!
</snip>

So it looks like they are headed to nationals!!! Good job Lakeshore.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Pardon the last depressing post

Sometimes things don't go well. Sometimes you get a little run down. I am pretty run down today, but spirits are good. Miranda slept all night long (9 to 4:30) so that is good. Yesterday we stopped by the used bookstore in Kent and I was able to pick up my second out of print book there. The first one I picked up (about 2 months ago) was Destination Void by Frank Herbert which takes an interesting look at the creation of synthetic intelligence. The one I picked up yesterday is more of the pulp variety in The Lost King by Margaret Weis (of Dragonlance series fame). I read it years ago and enjoyed it immensely. It tells the tale of young boy and his hidden kingly heritage. It definitely falls in the Fantasy Science Fiction sub-genre as it is more like Star Wars than anything else.

So besides that Miranda spent some time playing with blocks and flipping through pages of a book. So yesterday was a good day.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I am a bad father...

I let my child cry too long. She threw up. It is all my fault.

Good vs. Dumb

Been thinking of making this a series. But saw two links that I felt fit those categories fairly well. But I will let you be the judge.

Good vs. Dumb

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Zero is lonelier than One

I will eventually get around to talking about day 2 of the NFL draft, but I just saw a good article on signal vs. noise about how Trent Reznor is marketing his new album. In general, there has been lots of talk about viral marketing as a good way to cheaply get interest drummed up about a product. To be honest, I really don't think it works. At best, it takes the folks that were already interested in your product and whips them into a fervor. At worst, you get arrested. I think in most cases it just doesn't connect with those that are unfamiliar with your product, to your product. The examples used for NIN about the two websites really show little connection with the product or NIN. This to me is confusing. How can you call that marketing? What that is to me is an extension of the entertainment value of the product.

That said, I will likely pick up the new album. I have listened to it completely on the Year Zero website (for free) and was very happy with what I heard. I would be even happier if I could directly buy the mp3's on the web, which I might, I just have checked.

The other things that Trent is doing in terms of offering of the tracks via GarageBand and no DRM, I think are so pro-consumer that the even those that are not fans should buy in. This feeling for me is only made worse by the fact that the RIAA collects royalties for songs that it doesn't even own that are played on the internet.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Start of the second half

Well, looking back over day 1, my biggest Lions disappointment comes from picking Stanton over getting any other of a myriad of Defense and Offense players.
  1. Calvin Johnson: Can't say I am excited to spend another draft pick on WR but he is an incredible player. (1st round)
  2. Drew Stanton: I am leaning two directions on the Lions drafting a QB, they should have got one in the first round or one in the third round. He is seen as a project and I am inclined to agree with that assessment. I don't know if I like high 2nd round projects... (2nd round)
  3. Ikaika Alama-Francis: DE that was injured in a late game. Fast, strong but had a poor showing in the individual workouts. Yeah, maybe a replacement of James Hall. (2nd round)
  4. Gerald Alexander: A SS that is likely to add some depth in either the nickelback position or could pan out to be a decent SS with some coaching. (2nd round)


The thing with the late second round picks, I am not sure if those would have been available for the 3rd round where Lions had picks before trading up.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

NFL draft day

Well, it is that time of the year again. Time for my Lions to make another selection that will make low impact. There have been exceptions to the case, but they have been rare. So now what.

Also watching this morning on ESPN, they have been highlighting the higher standard of conduct that is going to be required by the NFL. No other career path (speaking of all of sports) puts such young individuals in the possession of so much money and media focus. I am think they will have some luck in curbing this behavior just based on what they have done in the past with their drug policy. They will still have incidents but hopefully these kids can really learn the lessons of responsibility at such a young age.

So how am I going to blog this draft. In the past I have just watched it and ranted about it later. This time, I will likely just leave comments on this post talking about surprises only. Otherwise, it is just kinda ridiculous.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Running out of storage space?

Saw this staircase storage idea on Jana's blog. This is a great idea. I worry about it structurally but other wise there is a ton of wasted space with staircases. Makes me think we should just have lots of ladders or maybe elevators in our houses.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Cubicles and Accountants, the new D&D

This will be short one covering mostly a complaint I have about some implementations of Agile software development processes. The number 1 thing that people should remember when using these is that Agile is about people and relationships (stolen from the words of Scrum) as opposed to that of the process itself. What all the Agile processes have done is create a framework to start from. Not saying that I have hit where this is the bad case. Every case I have had the opportunity to be a part of focuses in the right directions, but I have seen where the Scrum bible is consulted, or things are rigidly adhered to, with no benefit to the team. A happy team is a productive team.

I guess I can finish this off with a second side rant, that Agile should mean just that. Priorities change and you can flow with them. I have seen this work well enough. The problem is when other teams or other customers come in with requests, most agile methodologies have no way of dealing with these. Or they do, and that is to let the single main customer (aka boss) dictates the priorities. The secondary customers get screwed. This is very intuitive. However when the secondary customer has a very valuable proposition, it might behoove the teams to internalize this sort of work.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Miranda goofing...

miranda 047

Don't really know what to say about this one...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

NFL draft thoughts and how the wii kicks butt

Well thanks to Cory, I was able to nab a Nintendo Wii. I don't think Michelle is yet too keen on it, but she does laugh when I try boxing. Out of the box, I have not complaints. The device is nice and small. It takes minimum setup although the sensor bar took a little bit of reading to figure out positioning and whatnot. But once in, creating a me and navigating the menus are a breeze.

I have a couple of usability complaints. You can't swap controllers around (haven't read the manual so not completely certain of that) so if one fails or accidentally hits the wall... not real sure. Second, if you are playing two player and player two quits and turns off their wiimote, it shuts off the machine. Ug. Also the whole friend code stuff is super not intuitive. Maybe I have spent the last 5 years with xbox live and that has corrupted me, but entering a 16 digit code for a friend and waiting for them to do the same is a tad weird. I would rather send an invite to a meaningful name. Your know.

As for the NFL draft, I am still debating if I want to spend the hours it would take to actually put together my predictions. On top of that, I see both the Raiders and the Lions looking to dump the first and second pick which makes the whole thing up for grabs. Problem is that no one wants to pay the compensation for a number one pick. But at the same point your have a 12 year OT waiting up there as well as a multi-year pro-bowl WR. I am not sold on the QBs this year, but there is quite a bit of talent in all positions to make trading up not worth it, unless you really need a QB or a great WR. So maybe I will throw together a last minute one... depends on how much temptation I suffer.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Definition of crave

I saw today that UBIsoft is going to release another rhythm game but this time for the Nintendo DS along the lines of guitar hero. The only difference is it isn't about the rhythm as much as it is about the actual playing of music on this small handheld "guitar". Jam Sessions seems to create some sort of weird desire deep in my music creation center of my brain.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

What the hey?

Well, I have a bunch more photos to upload to flickr and wouldn't you know it, it's down. Sigh. I guess at some point we begin to become dependent on our technology even in little ways (like loading pictures for family). Although I have had some other wonky network related problems that maybe this is actually comcast and their packet shaping in full effect?

So I guess no pics tonight. Maybe I will just photo edit them so they look a tad better.

By the way Miranda had her 1 year checkup. 18lb 10oz and 31 inches.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Downfall of man

Maybe it is just Western Civilization... maybe it is just United States... in the end, all I know is that compassion and community are surely dying. Common decency is no longer common. Mr. Virginia Tech shooter, why did you first shoot 50+ other people before killing yourself. Surely it would be much kinder to have just gone someplace quiet and ended your life, instead of taking so many with you. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this horrendous act.

Seems many times my reading always get related to what is going on in the real world. The latest example is Friday by R.A.H. The plot of the story is not important, but at one point in the book, it creates a world of anarchy created by a group of terrorist who seek to remove the world's corrupt which happen to be in power. One of the rotating main characters states they built their bomb shelter not for fear of an atomic bomb, but in fear of the day when social disorder occurs, based on the logic that there was a time when people could go outside and walk at night without fear of mugging or rape and that you could leave your door unlocked without having your life stolen away. Slowly society got worse and worse and that the inevitable conclusion would be mob rule. It seems that this self first attitude of the solution, could be a part of the problem as well. Sigh.

One other thing to mention on a related note is that we don't seem to care about how we interact with those around us as much as how it impacts us. Yesterday on my train ride home someone on the train took a cell phone call. Now the immediate portion of this you can probably already see is that this individual talked very loudly on the train without care for anyone else. He was so involved in his discussion of how he was created a RPG character with shapeshifting, regenerative properties over a crappy cell signal (he repeated regenerative over 15 times) that he failed to realize that the entire ... ENTIRE train car could care less about this conversation (don't get me started on the lady who once sat across from me taking to her lover about what he was wearing at that time). This only got worse because of the passive aggressive nature of our society. I was slightly annoyed but in the end, I blocked it out and continued to read my book. Others were not so tolerant of this anti-social behavior and mocked this individual for "being a nerd and that is just how 'those' people are". As a nerd/geek/etc, I am offended by how intolerant the other people are with they way they are applying this label. The proper way would have been to ask this individual to not shout at the top of his lungs or to save his RPG character discussion to place where it would not be subject to poor cell reception. Instead, we ignore this behavior and instead retaliate with equally bad behavior.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Scalzi on Blogger code of ethics

Scalzi has made some excellent points about this blog about A Call for Manners in the World of Nasty Blogs. I agree with all of John Scalzi's points infact, but I do have concerns about how nasty humans can be. It seems to only get worse with the level of anonymity that the web provides. What in a person to person level interaction where one individual is irritated or dislikes the other person, on the net it becomes full out hatred with scathing things said.

I personally feel that treat others how you want to be treated. And it is my blog, I can remove comments, but since you are all my friends and family, that is highly unlikely.