March 2006 Blog Posts

My Interaction Preferences

As part of the peer mentoring course I went to, one of the techniques we learned was to tell folks the best (and worst) ways to communicate with us so that when people have questions they know how to ask them in order to best get a valuable response in a timely fashion. As an exercise, here are my interaction preferences:
  • Email
    • If I am on the "To:" line, I will respond.
    • If I am on the "CC:" line, I will consider it an "FYI" and will not respond.
    • Put a real subject in the subject line. Do not put the whole message in the subject.
    • If you need a response or if I have to do something, put "ACTION REQUIRED:" at the front of the subject.
    • Do not use the "follow up" flag.
    • If it isn't high priority, do not use the "high priority" indicator. Do not abuse that.
    • Make the first sentence a statement of the problem and the second sentence a statement of what you want. If you can't do both of those in a sentence, I can't help you. Provide requsite context after that.
  • Don't call me. Tech questions generally can't be solved over the phone.
  • Don't leave me voice mail. I don't get to it.
  • Instant Messenger is good, but pay attention to the status. If I'm busy or in a meeting, don't IM me.
  • If my door is closed and/or my headphones are on, I'm in the middle of something. Don't interrupt.
  • The best times to catch me are before 10:00a and between 4:30p and 5:00p - first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Other times are not so great.

I think I'll also do another of these exercises - "how to ask me a good question" - so folks know how best to ask things to get the answers they need.

Does this seem like a lot of process around something? Maybe, but you have to figure: the person asking the question (the apprentice) is only half of the equation; the other have is the person answering (the mentor). Every time the apprentice asks something, it may be valuable, but a mentor can't teach if they don't want to, and part of being a good apprentice/question-asker is to go ask a question the right way so the mentor doesn't get burned out on answering and not want to answer anymore. I think that's been part of my problem in the past - I'm so burned out with the interruptions that I just don't want to answer anymore.

Deodorant Burn

Something I forgot to mention about my trip: While I was in the bathroom at the hotel yesterday morning getting ready, I pulled the cap off my deodorant and the entire deodorant stick, including the little turny-thing that pushes the stick out of the plastic case, flew out of the case and onto the bathroom floor.

That rocked. It took me a minute to decide whether I should go without or pick it up and attempt to use it.

I ended up using it.

But I sent Jenn an SMS message to pick me up some more deodorant at the store so I wouldn't be screwed today.

She went to the store and they didn't have my kind (again) so she picked up this Speed Stick Gel that she liked the smell of. I discovered a while ago that I am allergic to Speed Stick Gel, but this was a different scent, so I gave it a shot.

My armpits are on fucking fire.

I'm going to have to go wash them out and pick something new up at the store tonight. Burning armpits is funny, but it kind of sucks, too.

Peer Mentoring Seminar

I went on a little business trip yesterday to take a class about Peer Mentoring. The class was awesome, taught by a guy named Steve Trautman from Practical Leader.

We'll get to that, though. Let's start at the beginning.

The class was in San Jose, but I couldn't get a flight directly from Portland to San Jose, so I got this awesome Portland-to-Seattle-to-San-Jose thing on the way down. Nothing like flying north when your destination is south.

I don't travel much, so a lot of the changes between now and the last time I traveled were pretty amazing. You don't really check in with a human anymore. Instead, almost every airline has these sort of ATM looking machines planted around the airport that you go check in with. Punch in your confirmation number or put in your credit card, it looks up your reservation, and it prints you a boarding pass right there. If you don't have any luggage to check, you're good to go.

The security checkpoints are a little different, too. Your ID gets checked at the security checkpoint so the people at the gate don't need to. Plus, last time I traveled, not everyone had to take off their shoes - it was more of a "random check" sort of thing. Now everyone has to take off their shoes, empty their pockets... you end up sending your carry-on through the x-ray machine as well as a bin full of everything not affixed to your body. My belt ended up setting off the metal detector (it's never done that before) so that had to go through the x-ray. Once you get through the metal detectors, you pick your crap up on the other side and it feels like you're getting dressed first thing in the morning: Put on your belt, put on your shoes, put your keys in your pocket. Crazy.

As I was getting on the plane to Seattle I bonked my head really hard on the door frame. Turns out the plane was super small - like, the ceilings were probably 5' 10" clearance, so I had to hunker down to walk around. I've ridden coach before, but these seats were like "mini-coach." I've never seen seats so small. Thank goodness the seat next to me was empty because I had to sit sort of diagonal to get my legs to fit with any level of comfort.

When we got to Seattle, we got off the plane right on the tarmac. I didn't realize how common this was. I've only ever gotten on or off planes using the covered "tunnel" things that you walk down directly from the airport. On this trip, the only time I got on or off a plane that wasn't right on the tarmac was that first boarding in Portland - every other time, I got on or off the plane by walking out onto the tarmac. In some cases, it was as loose as "follow the yellow line to get to the plane" - not even any cover at all.

Got to San Jose late and picked up my rental car. I had asked for a compact - not only for price, but because I hate driving around large cars. Lucky for me, they upgraded me - free - to a full size because they were out of compacts. Faaaaaantastic. I'm in an unfamiliar area of California where every parking spot is a sub-compact and I "get" a full size car.

Left the car lot and went to the hotel to check in. My room was on the other side of the complex. Of course, why wouldn't it be? Got to the room and noticed there was a peephole in the normal spot on the door and one at the level of my navel. Why does my belly button need a peephole? Oh, I see - it's the handicapped-accessible room. What does that mean? It means that everything has been moved down so that folks in wheelchairs can get to it easier. A noble gesture and I'm glad that they do things like that. On the other hand, it means that everything is down around my knees.

I suppose it didn't really matter, though, since I basically just went to bed once I got in.

When I woke up the next day it was raining. In San Jose. I visit California, like, never, and it rains the day I'm there. Went and had some waffles at the little continental breakfast bar the hotel had, checked out, and drove to the place where the class was.

The class size was small - there were only seven scheduled - but we ended up starting a half-hour late because four of the seven decided to show up late. I hate that.

That said, the class went off without a hitch and was really awesome. I learned a lot of techniques that I want to apply to the way I do things, and I see how in the past some of the things I was doing wrong were causing frustration to others (as well as things the folks asking questions could have done differently to be better learners). I totally recommend it to anyone who has to answer questions or help people out with on-the-job training sorts of things, regardless of whether you're in a technology business. It's globally applicable stuff that can make everyone better mentors and better apprentices.

After class I returned the rental car and headed back to the airport to catch my flight. I had some time, so I went to the Togo's in the San Jose airport. My instructor was in there just ahead of me, which was kind of "small world," but then, San Jose airport didn't strike me as all that big, either, and he was on the way to Seattle. Anyway, he went up and decided to order a sandwich... but wasn't too successful, since they only had like three of the eight bread types listed. Oh, and they didn't have all of the sandwich toppings listed on the menu, either. Hmmm. When he was done, I decided to skip the sandwich and just have the soup of the day (clam chowder). They sell soup one of three ways: small, large, and "in a bread bowl." I decided to go for the bread bowl. "We don't have bread bowls." Ummmm, okay. Large soup it is.

Ten minutes before my flight was to depart, I figured I'd take a last minute restroom break. Unfortunately, a plane had just landed so there was a pretty significant line for the two available urinals. Eventually I got my turn. As I was going, the guy next to me finished, flushed, and walked off. The next guy came up to the newly vacated urinal and as he was about to start going, quickly backed off and left the bathroom. What? I then looked down to see that the urinal next to me was, in fact, overflowing all over my fucking shoes. The water had to be a good quarter-inch deep. What was I going to do? I was in the middle of peeing - you can't just clamp it off, and it's too late anyway, so... I ended up starting to laugh and said really loud, "That's AWESOME." The guys in line started laughing.

The flight home was in "mini-coach" again, but this time I didn't have two seats to myself so I had to cramp in. It wasn't a horrible flight, but I can see the value of paying for a larger seat. I had my coat out this time, so when we de-planed on the tarmac I was ready for it.

Just before I left, the last major upgrade since I last traveled hit me: Paying for parking. Now when you come into the lot, you get a ticket with a magnetic strip on it. As you walk out of the airport (before you make it to your car), you feed it into a machine, then it asks for money, so you feed in either cash or put your credit card in. It then spits your credit card out, your original ticket out, and a receipt. When you pull out of the parking lot, there are two lot attendants (to take money from folks who didn't use the machine) and like eight automated exits where you feed in your original ticket (you keep the receipt), they eat your ticket and they open the gate to let you out. Very cool.

All in all, not a bad trip, and a really great class. Plus an eye-opening travel experience. Makes me feel like I really need to travel more so I can keep up with these things. Maybe I'll have to make that a priority.

Stomach Bug

Yesterday was the worst. I had planned on getting a whole bunch of stuff done, but what ended up happening was me waking up with this stomach bug. I never get sick, like, ever, and this was horrible. Sweats, aches... gastrointestinal issues... It sucked. A lot.

Jenn had this same thing on Tuesday and I underestimated how crappy it makes you feel because, well, like I said - I don't really get sick. Holy cow, was I wrong. I think I took well over the recommended daily maximum of darn close to every drug in the house. Slept most of the day. My parents came over for a little bit, but that's the most that really happened.

Thankfully, it seems like it may have run its course. I'm still kind of achey and tired and I didn't get much sleep last night... decided to just get up at 4:00a today because sleep wasn't happening... but I'm not having all of the issues I was having yesterday. That's not to say I'm going to be running around and such, but hopefully it won't chew into work tomorrow.

Follow up from Friday - I ended up getting Ticket to Ride Europe at the game store, and it's pretty fun. Jenn and I played a couple of rounds Friday and had a good time with it. I think my biggest problem right now with board games is that the premises are kind of lame. I mean, building a train route across the country just doesn't sound like fun when you read it on the back of the box, regardless of whether the play is actually good. I don't regret picking the game up, and I may well get me a copy of Puerto Rico now that I know the premise isn't everything... but I'd be stoked to see more fun games that sound cool, too.

Looking Into Board Games

I've been up since like 4:00a because I had another stupid headache - this time sinus related - and I took some Excedrin Migraine (probably the only pain reliever that works, though I should look into Excedrin Tension Headache) and it has enough caffeine in it to wake me up. Gets rid of the headache, though - that and some Allegra.

Jenn and I like playing games, and I noticed that we have far too many of the same kind of game. I think we have, seriously, like five different versions of Trivial Pursuit, none of which I'm remotely good at, and we have a bunch of other stuff we thought would be cool, bought, and had it turn out to be kind of lame. So I'm taking a page from my friend (and indirect boss) Chris and I'm going to go more, well, avant garde with my gaming. I took a look at his collection, compared that with some of the ratings I see on BoardGameGeek, and I'm going to make a trip to Rainy Day Games this weekend to pick something good up. Not sure precisely what yet, but I'm leaning toward Puerto Rico or Ticket to Ride Europe.

We're going to get Comcast phone on April 8, too. My parents have it, as does Stu, and everyone seems to dig it. They'll put in some needed cable outlets while they're there so we'll finally have TV in all the rooms in the house. Looking forward to that.

No plans really for the weekend. Hopefully nothing that costs money (other than the trip to the game store) will come up. I ended up buying a new printer - HP DeskJet 5940 - this week (time for an upgrade) and I think that was my mad money for the time being. (Got it for a steal, though - $60, marked down from $90. Can't beat that! Stu took advantage of that, too.)

Lawn Detritus

I went out to get the mail last night and found a used condom wrapper in the middle of my damn lawn. How the hell did that get there? I mean, are there illicit sex acts occurring in my yard that I'm not getting to participate in or something?

Regardless, picking up condom wrappers out of your yard is a humbling experience. You really don't want to touch it, so you kind of get a stick... and push it around for a while until you realize you can't pick it up with a single stick, so you cast about for a second stick... then you go into the garage and get a shovel...

It also makes you feel like you're living in some sort of anarchic post-apocalyptic Blade Runner world. Come on, man - rubber wrapper in the suburban yard? Come on.

I guess I should be thankful it wasn't like a used hypodermic needle or something. The worst I get is a dog turd in the middle of the sidewalk (that was last week) or a condom wrapper in my yard. Lots of shoveling going on around my place.

Next time I'll take photos. I'm actually having some digital camera problems right now (the problem is that it fucking chews through batteries like a pack of hyenas through a herd of sick wildebeests) so I'm not taking a load of pictures of, well, anything. I plan on getting a new, more battery-friendly camera (hopefully more portable, too), at which time I'll probably go apeshit with the photos and start taking pictures of random shit again.


After fighting shell extensions for my Junction Shell Extension project, I know what a pain it is. I can only imagine that this Sky Software "EZShellExtensions.Net" product will make that vastly easier. Of course, at $95 per developer, I'm not sure if it fits my $0 software budget, but if I really got into it, that might be the way to go.

Monad Rocks

I haven't had a lot of time to look into some of the latest MS tech what with the project I've been mired in for a while, and yesterday Hanselman turned me on to Monad, the new Microsoft command shell. (Yeah, I'm a little late for this boat, but it's still in beta, so I'm not that late.) He was showing me some of the ways he's thinking about automating tasks around work and I gotta say... even the simplest demo is awesome and makes you think in a different way entirely about the usefulness of the command line. Everything is an object? No more parsing text output? It doesn't get much better than that.

I decided to try it out this morning when I was talking to Stu and he wanted to figure out the most recently modified file in a directory tree. Monad to the rescue, right? One command line:

get-childitem -Recurse -Exclude CVS | sort-object -Property LastWriteTime -Descending | select-object -First 5 | get-property -Property LastWriteTime,FullName | format-table -Property LastWriteTime,FullName -Autosize

That will:
  • Recurse through the filesystem from the current location down
  • Sort all the files found by last write time
  • Get the first five in that list (the most recent five modified files)
  • Get the last write time and full name properties, and
  • Format the property list into a nice table

It ends up looking like this (click to enlarge):

Monad in action - sorting most recent modified files (click to enlarge)

I don't know about you, but I think that's hot. One line, loads of functionality. I mean, who needs batch scripting now? I can't wait to get some time to really delve into this thing.

Possible Wedding Changes

We got the invoice for what the food will cost if we invite the full 125 people that we were going to and have all the hors d'oeuvres and such the way we want. It comes to somewhere between "Seasonal Pricing" and "$CALL," so we're looking at possible amendments to things.

We know we want that catering place because I don't want shitty wedding food. I refuse to show up to my own reception and not want what's at the buffet. I can do that at anyone else's wedding (sorry, all you people whose weddings I've been to, but it's true - I can't do another "army pan of teriyaki chicken"). So some changes have to be made.

First, I think we'll cut slightly back on the food. If we nix the butler-served hors d'oeuvres (you didn't all actually want the spinach and artichoke dip on bruschetta or the crab cakes, did you?), that'll save quite a bit, and there are some minor changes to the menu we might be able to do (selecting a different beef dish, for example) to reduce cost... but the largest way to reduce cost is to reduce head count.

As such, we're going back over the list of potential invitees. Generally speaking, family is safe... but friends we haven't seen in a looooong time, really distant relatives, people who haven't actually met one of us already... probably not going to make the list. I had a lot of work people on the list, but I just can't afford it, so if I work with you but you're not a) someone I hang out with weekends; b) a really good friend from before I started Corillian; or c) in the wedding party... I don't know you'll be getting an invite. Sorry. It's nothing personal.

Instead, what we're toying with is a sort of open house deal where it's a little less formal, possibly a week after the wedding (when we get back from vacation), and that's where we'll invite all the people we couldn't get before.

Of course, that's all still being discussed, so this whole point might be moot. We'll see. Jenn's going to run some more numbers and see how it all comes out.

Motorola V180 - SMS (Text) Messaging Issue

Friday night I became aware that my phone, a Motorola V180, was able to send SMS messages (text messages), but I couldn't receive them. An hour on the phone with Cingular got me to the Motorola help desk where I found out that there's a known issue with the V180 software. They discovered this in December, but somehow they didn't notify anyone and I don't see it anywhere on their web site.

To determine if you have the affected software, dial *#9999# on your phone. That will show you the version number (look for "S/W Version"). The version on my phone right now is R365_G_0B.D2.2ER. The important bit there is the 0B.D2.2ER part - that's the version. If you have 0B.D3.06R or better, you're not affected by this problem. If you have less than that, you will have issues with SMS messages (both text and multimedia) as well as "other problems" that the service person didn't bother listing off.

How do you fix it? Well, in this day and age, with a phone that has a USB link to it, you'd think you could just download the ROM from the web site, hook the phone up, and update the software yourself. Not so. You can either send your phone in and have them update the software for you and send it back; or you can have them send you a replacement, you can transfer your information over to the new one yourself, and then send in your affected phone. Either way, they have to do the update at the factory.

That's one of the benefits of having this thing through work - I go talk to our telecomm guy and the problem solves itself.

Cirque, Catering, and Chilling Out

Had a really awesome weekend. Friday night got together with Stu and Tiff and all of us went shopping at Washington Square. Stu and I set a new record for shoe buying - 10 minutes from store entry to store exit. Came out with some pretty nice dress shoes, too. Dinner at Newport Bay and some games back at our place and the night was a success.

Saturday we woke up to the neighbor's dog barking. Again. Still. I've talked to the guy about it before (it's a reasonably new dog, just been here a few weeks) and he said he'd take care of it, but it seems that any time they leave their house and the dog gets put outside, it barks... and barks... and barks... for hours at a time, no end in sight. I left the guy another note; hopefully he'll get this together. I'm going to play a "three strikes, you're out" sort of thing on this - one more time and I'm calling the cops. That dog barked from 8:00a until at least 10:00a.

At 2:00p, though, Stu and Tiff came over again and we went to a catering tasting at Premiere Catering. Tasty, tasty, tasty. We'll definitely be going with them for the wedding food. The preliminary menu is looking like:
  • Bruschetta with spinach and artichoke dip for hors d'oeuveres
  • Fresh green salad with assorted dressings
  • Fruit kabobs
  • Assorted breads
  • Chicken piccatta with raspberry sauce on the side
  • Top sirloin with a brandy/vermouth reduction sauce
  • Pesto ravioli
  • Ginger/plum ravioli

It's going to be the first wedding I've been to where I'm actually stoked about the food.

We went home after that and we all got dressed up because that night we had tickets for the Cirque du Soleil show, Varekai. Amazing. Astounding. Beautiful. As usual, Cirque put on a fantastic show and we all loved it. It was Jenn's third Cirque show and she liked it better than the last ones; it was Stu and Tiff's first, so it was a fantastic introduction for them to the world of Cirque. I can't wait until they come back.

Sunday morning I woke up with another of my recent headaches. I think this one was more sinus-related, and with Spring here I don't doubt it. I've started back on the Allegra so maybe I can pass on some of the symptoms. (I'm sure this would have been much worse already had I not taken allergy shots, but the shots didn't 100% cure me, so I've got to supplement.)

Anyway, Sunday was spent lounging about nursing the headache - napping, watching some TV, and playing Playstation 2. I've been having a fabulous time with the 24 game - they really got that one right. It's a total blast and it's all I could have hoped for in such a game. Not too difficult, not monotonous, all the characters with the real voices... definitely worth the time and money.

And now it's Monday. No headache, which ties in with a theory I'm working on: Before going to bed on Friday, I had a couple of wine coolers with the gang when they were over and Saturday I didn't wake up with a headache. No drink on Saturday night and Sunday there was a headache. Had another wine cooler last night before bed - no headache. I'm curious if the alcohol is slowing my brain down enough to relax so I can sleep. Not that I'm going alcoholic with it or anything, but I'm curious if that's the case.

Staples Easy Button

I think the commercials from Staples with people using the "Easy Button" are funny. Even funnier is that you can buy an "Easy Button."

TV Shows On DVD

I've been watching a lot of TV on DVD recently, probably because you can be more selective about which episodes of which series you want to see combined with the distinct lack of time-wasting commercials. Found this site called TV Shows On DVD that tells you all about the current and scheduled releases of TV on DVD. If you're into that, it's definitely a site worth bookmarking.

Now the question is, when are they going to get around to putting Voyagers! or The Wizard on DVD?

My Ring Came In

Black titanium 'One Ring'Jenn ordered my wedding ring online and, after a reasonably significant education for both of us in not only the German language but also how to make international wire transfers, it finally arrived.

It's a black titanium Lord of the Rings "One Ring." I think it's awesome and, being titanium, won't get destroyed as easily as other stuff I might get. Jenn's still getting used to it since it's not the traditional gold band.

Apparently it's luck we even got the thing. After wading through their site using Google Language Tools and getting the size calculated and everything, after figuring out how to get the wire transfer done, and after beating our heads against trying to contact the online store, it turns out they don't actually accept orders that ship to the US and the only reason they sent it was because they already had our money. Bad online store design, folks - if you don't offer shipping to the country, don't offer it as an option.

Regardless, I'm stoked. The ring rocks. One more item off the checklist.

Physical Effects of Stress

Before I get into this, something somewhat unrelated: In guys' bathrooms, the urinals are generally set up so one or more are at one height and one is much lower. It's an accessibility thing - shorter folks can use the shorter urinal and have the same experience as taller folks at the taller urinals. In smaller bathrooms, there's one tall one and one short one. I think my new favorite thing is having the five-foot-tall guy run into the bathroom two steps ahead of me and take the tall urinal so that I (at six-foot-two) can piss down around my ankles in the shorter one. Keep doing that, folks. No disrespect felt here at all. Next time you can't reach something on a high shelf, you be sure to let me know. I'll get right on that.

Back on topic now - the physical effects of stress.

I've been waking up in the last couple of weeks with these ridiculous tension headaches that last the majority of the day and sometimes into the afternoon. I have one today, in fact, that started about 2:00a and is almost gone (but not quite). I'm sure I'm destroying one or more fairly vital organs with my dosage of over-the-counter pain killers, but nothing seems to really kick its ass. I know this thing is a tension headache because if I push on the gigantic muscle knot in my right shoulder the pain instantly transfers from my head to my shoulder.

I'm stressed out, folks.

And the thing is, I'm not sure if it's just the ol' "I need a vacation" or if it's more "I need something to change up at work." I'm not too stoked with the stuff I'm "getting" to do right now (it's not creative, it's not cool, it's not fun, it's not challenging, and frankly I don't see a whole heap of value in it even though I very well know it's gotta get done) and I wake up in the middle of the night with my mind racing about this stupid thing. It's stressing me out.

Not only that, but I've had this little patch on my foot (probably the size of a pencil eraser) that's been itching for a few months now. I went to the dermatologist and it's not eczema or psoriasis or any fungus or anything. You know what it is? It's nerves. I was talking to the doctor and telling him how I don't notice it itching or anything really during the day, but when I sit down at night and watch TV or basically decompress, that's when I notice it. He said it's connected to stress - my brain may not be thinking about the day, but the stress is manifesting itself as an itch in my foot. (Apparently it's not uncommon and the doctor himself has the same issue.)

I'm not sure what can be done, but I'm positive something's gotta give. My foot's going to itch off or I'm going to end up calling in sick with the most insane migraine recorded in medical history.

Junction Shell Extensions - Update (Obsolete?)

Hermann Schinagl has a great shell extension that provides oodles of functionality around junctions. I have a similar extension, but while mine is more of a "visual cue" sort of thing, his actually does something. I dropped him a note, and he just integrated my icon overlay, and I'm gathering that he's going to put the property sheet in, too, when he gets time. [UPDATE: As of March 26, 2007, Hermann has integrated the property sheet into his extension. Woohoo!]

Check this thing out - it's the bomb. Plus, once he's got the property sheet in there, it totally obsoletes mine. (Of course, I offer the source code to mine, so for those wanting to learn a little, go check that out.)

Engineering and the Sales Cycle

It really annoys me how (at least, in my experience) the sales cycle seems to trivialize the value of product development engineers. I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say, "If it wasn't for Sales, we wouldn't be drawing paychecks." Guess what - if Sales had no product to sell, they wouldn't be drawing paychecks either.

I also find it pretty annoying how Sales (again, in my experience) can sell a feature that doesn't exist on a product that isn't complete and somehow it's the engineer's fault for "not having that done on time." Hey, man, I can run out and sell a flying car fueled by water, but anyone will tell you I haven't got a leg to stand on when I bitch out General Motors asking why that isn't quite done yet because the customer is expecting it.

One of these days someone will figure out that Sales and Engineering actually need to co-exist. Neither is more important than the other. Engineering needs to react to the needs that the Sales folks have - when a feature needs to be added to a product, that information needs to be seriously considered by Engineering (before it gets sold to a customer). Sales needs to stop promising things that Engineering can't deliver and then turning around and blaming Engineering for not delivering something that can't be delivered.

Until then, though... I'm thinking I need to put up some concertina wire around my cubicle.

CR_JoinLines Released

The new version has been released fixing a bug where, when used in later versions of DXCore, joining selections was functioning incorrectly.

Go get it!

Gambling My Life Away

It's been pretty stressful at work, so I took this weekend to play.

Friday night Jenn and I went to the Winter Hawks game. They only really "showed up" in the final ten minutes of the game, so I was a little bored and, frankly, pissed off until then, but they ended up winning 3-0 (yeah, scoreless until the last ten minutes) so it wasn't too terrible. Plus we got to see a bunch of friends of ours that we don't normally see, so that was good.

Saturday is usually chores with some gaming thrown in, but like I said, it was playtime. Stu, Tif, Jenn, and I headed out to play laser tag for a bit, which we totally kicked ass at. (Considering the competition averaged about 12 years old, not terribly surprising, but a couple of them were animals.) Played a couple of games of that and felt we got our exercise for the day.

We followed that up by a trip to the movies to see UltraViolet. Ugh. I reviewed that earlier, but the quick answer is: skip it. Looks beautiful, sucks donkey. Dammit.

Jenn and I rounded off the night by a trip to the Corillian "Casino Night" event. I didn't anticipate too much about this one, but it turned out to be a total blast. Talked to some folks from work that I don't normally talk to and hung out much of the night with Chris and Julie, Chris teaching Julie, Jenn, and me how to play craps (much more fun than I thought). Neither Jenn nor I won anything, and we both lost our "money," but it was awesome and we'll definitely make the next one. Hopefully we can convince Stu and Tiff to go as well.

Sunday Stu came over and we blasted out some Paper Mario. About seven hours of that and we had made quite a bit of progress. Lots of fun - I haven't played much of that sort of game and I'm really digging it.

I have the 24 game and we'll probably fire that up in the next couple of weeks after we finish Paper Mario. I find I need to focus on one game at a time or I forget what's going on.

Good times this weekend, and helpful in recovery for the week.


Why can't Hollywood make movies that look cool and have a good plot?

Went to see UltraViolet this weekend because I couldn't stay away from the cool factor. Plus, being a Milla fan, I had to see her in this super-techno-fied world that the previews had pimped so well.


The visuals were beautiful. Stunning, really. Graphically, it's everything I hoped it would be. Gorgeous effects. Awesome fight scenes. It reminded me of the first time I saw the effects for the first Matrix movie - it was just cool. (Yeah, it was overly CG. Some folks might not be into that and bitch that it's "not real enough." I dig CG effects and ate it up.)

That said, what happened to the plot? I mean, seriously, where was the QA department on this thing? Did they actually have test screenings?

The idea is that, sometime in the indefinite future, this virus got out and basically created vampires ("hemophages" in the movie). The government worked to wipe them out rather than looking for a cure. Sounds good, right? Then they introduce this kid who is... uh... some sort of weapon or something (supposedly) and we get caught up in Milla trying to save the kid and fight the government simultaneously, all the while looking for a cure for the hemophage virus... I won't spoil the mediocre plot twist.

The point is, all this is happening in 88 minutes, so it's moving altogether too fast. Fast enough that I really didn't get a chance to care about why this person was shooting this other person. Fast enough that I had no idea who this rival gang was or why I should be afraid of them, and definitely fast enough that there was no import when they got wiped out by a single person.

Interesting premise, but it reminded me a lot of Underworld - great principle, cool world, horrendous execution. We left confused and feeling like we got ripped off. Except for the "Milla Factor" (she was hot - the whole time, Milla was just hot), I want my money back.

Skip this one, folks, lest you feel duped out of your $7.50. Instead, go buy a copy of Equilibrium and soak up what UltraViolet could have been.

posted @ Monday, March 06, 2006 11:23 AM | Feedback (0) | Filed Under [ Media ]

Hanselmention in Hanselminutes 8

The eigth Hanselminutes, re: developer tools (one of the best shows so far, IMHO), gives a bit of a shout out to CR_Documentor - my DXCore plugin to allow preview of XML doc comments from within Visual Studio. Woohoo!

If you like CR_Documentor, check out my other stuff, too. Got a few other DXCore plugins you might find handy.