AREA 51 RAID

The Area 51 raid is supposedly happening today, in just a few hours if you are to believe the original start time. I think social media is mostly stupid but if this dumb viral event even causes one newsworthy thing to occur, it will have been worth it. I don’t expect them to actually get far enough into the facility to find aliens but if the whole thing exposes one just one thing about Area 51 that we didn’t know about before, that will be awesome.

Come on millennials, this is your world stage to show you’re capable of great things! I do not want to wake up and find out the government was forced to shoot at some kids.

LIKE A DOCTOR

Despite having the week off next week, I’m actually on-call this weekend. We’re trying to finish up the first major patch to our game and we’ve found many more bugs than anticipated. We’re guessing that QA will continue to find bugs on the weekend and since the patch needs to be finished by Monday, any fixes need to be done as soon as QA finds them.

It’s anyone’s guess what QA will find and who will need to be called in to fix the problem. Will it be me? We’ll find out!

THREE MORE DAYS

I have three more days at work before I have a week off. I was hoping to slip into that week quietly but I’m not sure if that will pan out. The week had been going smoothly so far but near the end of the day, things got interesting. Our quality assurance team found a particularly nasty bug late in the day and while it was initially assigned to some other engineers to look at, I realize the root cause was in some areas that I’m responsible for.

Since our game is already out, I’m fairly certain this bug is also out in the wild, which sucks. The bug causes the game to hang but not crash in a particular situation if you’re in split-screen mode with two players. It has to do with a complex set of steps that gets out of order. Why the sequence of events gets out of order is something I’m still investigating.

I’m fairly certain tomorrow is going to be a stressful day at work.

AIR FRIED FRENCH FRIES

I had a bit of free time this evening and as an experiment, I tried using the “air fry” feature of my new toaster oven for the first time. A few days earlier, I purchased a bag of frozen french fries from the supermarket. The instructions on it stated that for a conventional oven, I should bake it in a preheated oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 25 minutes. I knew my air frying would take less time but I didn’t know how much less exactly.

I began by laying out a single layer of french fries on the air frying basket. It’s essentially just a wire tray that goes on a drip tray. I was careful not to put down too many fries because I didn’t want to make too many and also, it would cook better if it was just a single layer. I then brushed a layer of vegetable oil over the fries, enough to cover the fries.

It was then time to put the fries into the oven. I used the same temperature as suggested above and turned on the oven. The fan in the oven started spinning and it was relatively quiet. I set the timer for 10 minutes, as just a first guess. The plan was to basically monitor the fries continuously as I had no idea how long it would take to fully air fry these fries. Within the first three minutes or so, I began hearing the oil start heating up, with a few pops here and there. I could see the oil bubbling and the fries starting to get brown. Just before the ten minute mark, they got golden brown very quickly and I had to move fast to turn the oven off and get remove the fries.

The basket was quite hot, I was amazed at how potent and fast the oven got up to temperature. The fries looked a tad overcooked. I was concerned. It had been less than ten minutes since I put the fries in the oven. I wondered if I had burned the outside of the fries and insides were still frozen cold. I had to try them. I emptied the fries out of the basket and onto some paper towels on a plate. Since I didn’t use a lot of oil, the fries weren’t too greasy. I cautiously picked up a fry to sample one. It was still a bit hot to the touch. I took my first bite and I was pleasantly surprised. The fry was crispy on the outside and warm on in the side. These fries were fully cooked. Amazing.

Overall, they were pretty tasty, not soggy at all. Oven baked fries can be sometimes a bit soggy and mushy on the inside but these weren’t. If I had to do it over again, I’d take them out earlier because they were a bit too browned. I’m very impressed how at quick they cooked. In a regular oven, I’d have to wait at least ten minutes for the oven to preheat and then another 20-25 minutes for the fries to cook after that. In this case, I had fries ready to eat in less than ten minutes.

I’m going to try chicken wings next!

EXPIRED

This afternoon I went to the CIBC branch below where I live to deposit a cheque. I slid my debit card into the ATM and punched in my PIN. The ATM said my card had expired and my card came sliding back out. I was surprised but as I looked at my card, the ATM was correct. My card had expired on the last day of August. We are in the middle of September. I normally don’t use my debit card very much. I pay for almost everything through credit cards that offer me rewards. So, this was the first time I had to use this card since it expired.

Since the bank was closed, I had no one to ask for help. Usually, a bank sends you a new card weeks before it’s supposed to expire but I had received no such card in the mail. I began to wonder if someone had intercepted such a letter and took my card. I recently had examined my bank statements online and saw nothing out of the ordinary.

When I returned home, I phoned CIBC to figure out what was going on. The bank representative was able to look at my file and told me that a “hold/stop mail” flag had been set on my file. It meant that CIBC has flagged me as a client that should not be mailed any correspondence whatsoever. This was a problem. I had not been told such a flag had been set. This flag also prevented me from getting a new card in the mail.

I was told I had two options: get the card mailed to me and wait two weeks for it, or, go to any branch during business hours and get the card immediately. I decided I’d get the card in person. The bank rep also was nice enough to remove the flag from my file so that I would be getting mail from CIBC again. They couldn’t tell me how long my account had been like that, so I’m curious how much mail I’ve missed from CIBC. How very odd.

FEEDBACK

Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville has been out for about a week now and I’ve been reading a lot of feedback online about the game. Anytime you read something on the Internet about some you made is probably inviting pain to visit you but I can’t help it.

The good news is that everything I worked on has been either praised or not mentioned at all (which is sometimes as good as praise since it means it’s not broken). I spent a significant amount of development time helping the single-player or PvE areas and so far, the response to that from players has been almost universally positive. In the multiplayer areas of the game, I worked on the end-of-round logic, which decides who were the best players after the round, and who did the best on each team. The funny thing is, there’s actually a pretty serious bug with some of that logic and it won’t get fixed until next month but it doesn’t seem like anyone has noticed it or complained about it.

Most of the criticism about our game is in areas that I don’t work in, mostly to do with character balancing (some characters are perceived to be too powerful or not powerful enough). That’s a tall order for our designers to get perfect right out of the gate but they’ve been busy trying to improve things.

Overall, I’m super pleased about the reception to our game. I’ve had some bad games come out, which people hated, so I’m relieved to have a good one for once.

TIME OFF

After working hard all summer and putting in a bunch of OT to get Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville out the door, I was told by management that I get a week off at the end of this month. This “comp time” as it’s called is never equal to the amount of OT you put in but it’s better than nothing.

Since I was just told I’d be getting this time off, I don’t really know what I’ll be doing during that time. My initial thoughts are that I just want to do nothing for the whole week. So many of my co-workers are just exhausted from the effort of getting the game done. It’s that exhaustion that can’t be overcome from just a weekend or even a long weekend. I would welcome a whole week of just sleeping in, naps, Netflix, video games, and junk/fast food.

FEELS LIKE FALL

The sky was grey and rainy when I woke up this morning. It rained on my way to work. I wore my rain jacket for the first time in many months. It felt like fall was upon us for the first time. I didn’t mind though. This summer was quite mild, so the transition didn’t seem as harsh or will be as harsh.

I will need to get new shoes soon. The pair of shoes that I’ve worn all spring and summer have holes in them. When the rains return in earnest, with the mini-rivers on the sidewalks, my feet will get soaked. For some reason, I feel like going to get new shoes at an outlet mall somewhere south, where the weather is warmer.

Now that the game I’ve been working on is now done, I am thinking about taking a trip somewhere to relax. I look forward to the beginning of fall.

A REVELATION

This week was the first time I was able to use my new vacuum in a real comprehensive manner and it did not disappoint. It sucked up a ton of dirt and dust, so it obviously succeeded in it’s primary function. The machine is just so well engineered though. It’s quieter, lighter, and all the bits and pieces, and buttons are put in logic places. It’s easier to manoeuvre around furniture and it doesn’t make me feel like I’m trying to steer a massive hunk of metal, like my last vacuum did.

All the filters are washable and they’re all easy to access as well. I didn’t really maintain my last vacuum that well but this one, it’s just easier to get that done. I wasn’t the biggest fan of vacuuming before, but this new machine makes the job really palatable.