The builders of my apartment sure spared every expense when chose the shower head in my bathroom. This model is literally the one I have right now. It really sucks. The settings are very minimal and the flow patterns you can make with it defy any beneficial use for the act of showering.

To rectify this, I bought a new showerhead from Wal-Mart the other day. I chose this bad boy. Much like the number of cores in my computer, this thing has dual showerheads, one that is fixed and the other for a handheld. You choose to have either on or both! Both!

Of course when I got it home, I realized I didn’t have a wrench to help me take off my existing shower head and to install the new one. This is a clear sign that I’m a first time homeowner (or that I’m just not a handyman) as I don’t even own a wrench.

A co-worker is going to lend me his tomorrow. I hope the installation goes well.


So just about an hour before I was going to leave work, a co-worker comes up to me. “Shaun” lives in the same building as I do. He has a two-bedroom with his girlfriend a few floors below me.

Shaun wanted to know if I knew anything about the Internet being out of service this evening until the next morning. Apparently, there was a notice in our building. I said no I had not seen anything like that in the morning when I left. The whole thing seem fishy from the beginning. The “Internet” just doesn’t become unavailable. He said his girlfriend just called him to inform him of this.

She didn’t say if it was a particular provider that had posted. Around my parts, Internet comes from either Shaw or Telus but she didn’t say which one it was. Scheduled outages like that are very, very rare. Not liking this one bit, I called the building manager to get some more info. It turns out he didn’t know anything about an outage and his Shaw connection was working fine.

Boy, Shaun wasn’t too pleased about this deception. His Sundays and Wednesdays are his designated gaming nights, a negotiation he made with his better half. This was an especially big night since he was participating in a little Battlefield: 1943 match tonight.

Ladies, let me give you some advice. If you’ve said to your dude he can play games that night, don’t tell him his connection to the outside gaming world is unavailable.


Despite being at less than the suggested 100 hours of my plasma break-in period, I’m feeling like I’m going to end this preventative step early. I’ve totally lost track of how many hours I’ve already put on the TV but I’m guessing it’s around 40-50 hours.

I am getting impatient. In the break-in period, the picture settings really are less than optimal. Also, you only calibrate your TV after the break-in. I also can’t play video games (because of static HUDs) nor can I watch movies at aspect ratios of 2.35:1. As you can see, that adds up to whole bunch of suck.

I’m going to finish this week off and starting next week, I’m going to turn up the settings and calibrate the TV. Then it’ll be time for Blu-rays and Xbox 360.


In posts of the last previous days I mentioned how was participating in a studio-wide EA Sports Grand Slam Tennis tourney. My partner and I made it through the first round which was an elimination round. On Friday, strangely enough, the second round was a round-robin format consisting of the three remaining teams.

The second round started at the lunch hour and we were lucky enough to get some catered sandwiches to fuel us in the competition. My partner and I were up first and we faced a team also from skate. Our opponents were a dude who sits next to me, Alan, and the most senior producer on our team, Jason (not a guy you want to make mad). It wasn’t really close as we beat them three games to one.

Our next challenge came from Need for Speed consisting of some pretty senior guys on the corporate ladder. One of them had even worked on a tennis game previously. It was a long and hard fought battle. We won four games to three with the tie-break going 7-5 in our favour.

Since we went 2-0 in the round robin, we were automatically into the finals. Our opponents would be the victory between both the teams we beat. In the end, the other skate team prevailed, making it all an skate final.

While the previous rounds were played in a small room with a TV and Wii, the finals were held in the largest auditorium on our campus, in front of the entire Black Box studio. We went from playing on a 46″ TV to a projected screen that about 20 feet high. When we were called down to play, I was only slightly nervous and was pleased that a select few were cheering for me.

The match did not start well. My partner was broken immediately putting us down a game right away. I knew a quick break was crucial since the set was so short. Unfortunately, they held quite easily. Down 2-0, it was a must win game on my serve. I’m not sure how I did it but I held serve at love (or close to it). Down 2-1, it was another must win game where we had to break them. We didn’t even come close.

Even though we had beaten them earlier in the day, we faltered at the worst possible time. For second place, we got $50 gift certificates to Future Shop and a medal that had two tennis racquets and a tennis ball on it. The winners got a $100 gift certificate, the same medal, and this is the part that matters, their names engraved on a large trophy.

I still feel the sting of defeat but am glad we at least made it to the finals. I am for sure going to enter into the next studio-wide gaming tournament because hey, who doesn’t love free stuff?


My team at work has been producing these videos for the last few months. The most recent one features one of our Amy-ies. Amy is a project manager, also known as a development director within EA circles. I work in one of areas she mentions in the video. Out of the half-dozen or so development directors we have, all except one is female. A strange twist on the usual gender ratio found in the industry.


So in today’s EA Sports Grand Slam Tennis for the Wii competition, my partner and I eked out a 3-1 games win in the first round. Despite having not played the game before and despite facing opponents who had played before, we managed to roar out to a 2-0 lead. We then lost the next game at love before my Slacker served out the last game for the match.

There are some peculiarities in how the tourney is run. First, I believe it’s first to three games for the win but I’m not certain if the match goes to a tiebreaker or if you have to win by 2. Second, even though we advanced to the next round, the next round is a round-robin format, despite the first round being an elimination round. The tournament ends today. We hope to make it to the finals.

In other completely unrelated news, did you know you can now change your Facebook username? Yes, it’s true. Even though they said you had to live with your username choice for the rest of time, it appears you can change it now. Click here for all the details. Maybe this lady will get her chance to save some embarrassment once her son grows up to know what his Mom’s username means.


So I’ve entered this video game competition at work that’s among people who work at Black Box. The organizers could have picked any game out there but they decided on EA Sports Grand Slam Tennis for the Wii. That’s great because I love playing tennis but here’s an interesting anecdote, I’ve never played the game before.

My real life doubles tennis partner asked me if I would join him in the competition. Of course, I couldn’t turn him down, even though he’s never played the game either. I’m not even sure if either of us own a Wii. The competition starts today, that is Thursday, and we get one practice session before we play for real. I’m hoping we get to play with the Motion Plus add-on as that adds a higher level of fidelity to the controls.

I believe the studio is going to be encouraged to watch the matches but I’m pretty certain the venue won’t fit more than 20 people, especially if there’s four of us madly swinging away. There’s some sort of reward for winning the whole competition but I need to dig up an e-mail to figure out what that is. Oh yes, there’s some sorta cup to be won.

Anyways, I’m really looking forward to playing the game. For the horde!


So what you’re seeing above are the remotes that I have to deal with in my living room. From left to right, the remotes are for: air purifier, sound system, Blu-ray player, TV, and set top cable box. As you can see, things get interesting when I need to change the TV channel, turn up the volume or adjust the picture settings. The good thing is rarely do I need to use all five remotes at the same time or even in a short amount of time. Another bonus is that the TV remote also can control the Blu-ray player through the HDMI-CEC standard.

Of course the best solution to having all these remotes is to buy a single universal remote control. The most popular universal remote appears to be the Harmony series from Logitech. The entry level remote for this series is $130! I guess that’s reasonable compared to the top of the line model, which retails for $600. I bet in some cases the total number of devices controlled by that remote would actually cost less than $600 combined. I’m surprised it doesn’t come with it’s own remote.

Anyways, for now, I don’t think the hassle of having five remotes is worth the $130. How many remotes do you have at home?


Many times before I’ve written how the video game industry is a male dominated one. Yet all this time that I’ve been working at EA as a software engineer, I’ve been lucky enough to work with a female software engineer. “Lisa” as I shall call her, has been sole female SE on our team since before 2006. She just happens to have the only PhD in computer science on our team as well.

Back when I knew nothing about the PS3 (yes, I actually do know something about it now), it was Lisa who sat down with me and gave me the tour through the PS3 dev tools. Believe me, the Sony dev tools back then for PS3 weren’t the best but Lisa was able to cut through all the crap to show me how to at least get the debugger running.

Over the last few years, Lisa has been patient while I asked my questions, answering so that I could go back and get unstuck from my problems. It’s not a big surprise to me and other people that many would consider her one of the best PS3 programmers on the planet.

A few months ago, Lisa and her husband got the great news that a baby was on the way. It’s been interesting as the pregnancy developed. In our programmers meetings, it was great to see half a dozen guys jump from their seats to offer them to Lisa as she arrived for the discussions. Two weeks ago, I had a problem and Lisa volunteered to take a look over at my computer. I felt bad that I was forcing her to walk all the way to my desk in her very developed state.

Lisa started her one year maternity today. On her last Friday, we got her cards and a small gift. We’ll all miss Lisa and hope her time off will be well-spent. Don’t tell anyone but I hope the little boy/girl grows up to be like their Mom, a pretty good programmer.

As Lisa said herself on Friday, our band of software engineers is now all boys. I hope our code doesn’t get all stinky now.