MAKE STUFF

I was supposed to write about the PNE tonight, maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. I spent the last few minutes on The Generator Blog. It’s a pretty sweet blog. It lists links to various sites that allow to make silly signs or pictures that are all customized to your liking. I made a custom seal that you see above.

They also have things like a cassette tape generator and an A-Team episode generator. The acronym generator told me that Erwin stands for “Enhanced Random Wide Input Network”. Well, that’s nice to know.

THE JEDI COUNCIL

I was going to write about the PNE tonight but maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. So I’m into my second real week of work at EA. There are a lot of differences between my old job and my new one but there is one thing that stands out. Most of the people on my team, the software engineers especially, are very experienced, senior people.

When I told some people that I was going to be working at the downtown studio, one person said that was surprising since they had heard they only hired SE II and above for that location. When I accepted the position, I signed on as an SE I.

It’s clear to me now that there is some truth to the seniority thing. Most of the engineers on my team have at least three or more years of experience in making games, most of that with EA. I’d say the average is probably closer to five years of experience. They’ve written a lot of code and done a lot of things that make they very valuable to the company.

The one thing that strikes me is that the engineers have an almost casual attitude of solving really hard problems on a daily basis. It’s not that they don’t care but that they don’t get to worked up about things because in the end, they know they’ll find some solution. I work with some extremely intelligent people.

I can only confirm that there’s just one other SE I on the team other than myself. That guy just finished university. We were talking one day and none of us could figure out if there was anyone else at our level. This is a bit of a departure for me since at my last job, there were predominantly junior people on my team, from engineering, to art, and to production. There was this “we’re all in this together” type of attitude. Now, I got a dozen people I could learn a million things from each day.

And finally, in other news, a truck full of Tang overturned in Queens, NY. Not sure why I reported that, I just probably wanted to type out my last name.

CONAN HOSTS THE 2006 EMMYS

Ever popular funny man Conan O’Brien hosted the 2006 Emmys award show on Sunday night. The awards were to be different this year with new rules in place that were supposed to give shows a better chance at winning.

Conan did a great job at hosting and it was one of the least stuffy award shows I’ve seen in years. His opening monologue after the intro sequence can be viewed here. Also, YouTube is filled with clips featuring Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart from the show. Oh if the Internet were a country, those two would be co-Presidents or co-Prime Ministers.

PAY DAY

I got paid on Friday for the first time at my new job. Three weeks or so of pay on my first cheque. It was an actual cheque too. Despite bringing a voided cheque to orientation on my first day of work, EA decided cut me a cheque. Weird. The HR assistant was puzzled too and told me to bring another voided cheque so this doesn’t happen again.

So now I’m thinking of what to do with my first paycheque. The responsible things to do would probably be save it or invest it. I could put it into my ING Direct account, you know like those commercials ask you to. Or I could invest it in a number of different ways. There are RRSPs, mutual funds, and some other funds that my financial advisor keeps telling me about.

While those are responsible things, they seem rather boring as well. On the fun side, I’m thinking of buying a Palm T|X. I’ve owned only one other PDA in my life and I barely used it. It was more of a novelty than anything else. Despite being a tool to “organize” my life, I still kept everyone’s phone numbers on scraps of paper. The T|X will be different though. I know I won’t use it to store phone numbers or addresses. It can display photos, play videos, play music, and connect to the Internet. It will make my somewhat short bus ride seem even shorter. Plus, it will be my first foray into the world of wifi.

I’m also thinking of buying an Xbox 360 but I don’t think I’m very serious about that. I don’t even have a decent TV to hook it up to, so that’s gonna cost a lot more.

Ok, so now I’m gonna go play Lego Star Wars.

LOOKING FOR WORK?

A good friend of mine recently came into possession of his own domain name. He has some specific ideas for his web site and my skills as a web designer cannot give him what he needs.

My friend is willing to pay a web designer for this work. If you yourself are a web designer or you know anyone who is looking for some contract work as a web designer, please send me an e-mail.

The domain owner is keen on getting his site up and running as he has deemed several events in the last few weeks as very “blog-worthy”. Please pass along this request to anyone who might be of help. Thanks!

DR. DAVE

Tonight, I had the infinite pleasure of dining with an old friend from my undergrad days. Dave and his lovely (and very pregnant) wife Abigail are back in Vancouver after spending two years in Halifax while he learned the ins and outs of endocrinology. A bit of trivia, Abigail now sees patients at the medical clinic where my own person physician works. Small world!

Speaking of my own personal physician, he called Dave up earlier today to see if he wanted to go out for all you can eat sushi. Dave told him he’d already agreed to go out to dinner with me. When he heard that, my doctor said to bring me along! Man, that would have been weird, eating sushi with my own doctor, his family, Dave, Dave’s parents, and some other people.

Dave decided we should probably go on with our original plans which I thought was a good idea since I haven’t seen him in two years so it would be nice to catch up on things. We settled on Capone’s in Yaletown for our restaurant.

It was nice seeing Dave and hearing about what’s going on in his life these days. It was especially generous of Dave to spend some time with me since he’s studying for an important exam. Not only did he spend time, he also paid for our meal! Thanks Dave.

You know, the trend lately in my life has been me losing friends left and right but it’s nice to know you can gain them back as well. Hey, Dave and I might even start playing Xbox together!

JAPANESE MYTHBUSTERS?

To say that Japanese television is entertaining is kinda like saying I like fried chicken. Both are understatements. There is a Japanese television show called, Trivia no Izumi, which if I had to reach for a clumsy North American comparison, would sorta be like Mythbusters.

The show answers “what if” type of questions. These questions might be things you have thought about but never had the resources to figure out on your own. In the video above, is one such question being answered on the show.

The clip purports to answer this simple question: what happens if you drive a vehicle in a straight line at 100 km/h and then fire a ball in the exact opposite direction at 100 km/h? I bet you’re itching to find out.

If you like this video, there are more on YouTube. For example, this video answers the question: how big does a fish need to be before cats can’t carry it away to eat it? I know it sounds stupid but I was fascinated!

BUT THEY BELIEVE IN JESUS HORSES

According to a new survey done by Michigan State University, one-third of the US population rejects evolution as scientific fact. The survey sampled responses from 32 European countries, the US, and Japan. The US would have been the least accepting of evolution but at the last second, Turkey took that crown.

The survey, which appeared in the Aug. 11 issue of Science, also explains that the number of people in the US who believe in evolution has dropped since 1985, even though Americans, on average, have more years of education in 2006.

According to this account of the study, the waning belief in evolution in the US is attributed to the strong influence of religious fundamentalism in that country. The authors remark “there is no major political party in Europe and Japan that uses opposition to evolution as a part of its political platform”. Such a stance, however, is a cornerstone belief of everyone’s favourite political party, the Republicans.

Finally, the study showed that those with pro-life attitudes in the US were much more inclined to reject evolution that their pro-choice counterparts. I don’t think that stat surprises anyone.

Keep up the good work down there! Carolyn, Suzanne, and Dana, you’re welcome to sleep on our couch when the time is right.

Bonus points to anyone who gets the reference in the post title without Googling it!

SIGH

“You think, six months ago I had a great on-campus job and social life. Now, I’m living at home, I have two friends and no academic stimulation for the first time in 20 years — sitting in the basement, surfing the Internet, looking for work.”

I hear ya loud and clear sister but I am thankful I have a job at least.

DAY ONE DOWNTOWN

So on Friday, I finally went to work downtown where I’ll be permanently placed. In hindsight, the first two weeks in Burnaby were quite comfortable. At EAC, I knew the layout, had many friends there, and it all felt like putting on an old shirt again. Friday morning, as I strode into the lobby of the office building, I realized exactly how nervous I was.

I don’t think your first day at a new job is ever easy, no matter how many jobs you’ve had. After riding the elevator up to reception, I told a lady behind the desk that I was here for my first day. A security guy then gave me another pass so I could access all the restricted floors in the building. An HR person then took me in for a short orientation and a tour of all the floors. The way EAX is organized, four floors are contiguous, so if you’re on these floors, the stairs are really all you need. There’s a fifth floor that EA has in the building and that one is five floors away from the set of four. Does that make sense? Anyways, it turns out I’m on the isolated floor which means I gotta take the elevator up to get to the snacks, the store, and outdoor lounge.

As I went through the tour, it was clear that there’s a big difference between EAX and EAC when it comes to space. EAC is on several acres of land. They can do whatever they want and they have oodles of space to work with. That’s why in Burnaby, there’s lots of open space to use architecturally which leads to some nice work areas. At EAX, there’s no escaping that it’s essentially in an office building and people are being hired on a constant basis. It’s definitely crowded in there. An area where only two people would sit at EAC probably has three or four at EAX. There’s talk of taking over another floor but that can only happen if a tenant decides to vacate that floor.

Having said all that, the views are spectacular. Some windows face Burrard Inlet and over to North Van. Here’s the weird thing though… lots of people have screens down which cover their windows because they don’t want the glare on their monitor. These are mostly artists who really need to see their work in the proper light. As I walked past the artists though and went into a payroll and HR area, they all had their screens up and were enjoying a glorious view of the water.

At the end of the tour I was shown my desk, which turns out to be a temporary location until they can move me into my permanent location. My computer also wasn’t ready just yet, so I spent the morning and a bit of the afternoon reading documents. When my computer did show up though, oh boy was that a treat. Check out the monitor they gave me. Weighing in at 24″, this is the largest monitor I’ve ever used. It’s ridiculous. Maximizing applications is a waste, since so much of the screen is left over. I maximized a Word doc and two-thirds of the screen was just whitespace. This thing begs to have at least two applications on screen at all times.

With my computer at my desk, I started the process of setting up all my development tools and got all the latest code. Despite a small hiccup, I was even able to build the game. By that time, it was the end of the day.

As a contrast, you might want to read last summer’s day one.