Off We Go

I’m sorry for the lack of posting of late. I’ve been meaning to get back to some things (like wrapping up my thoughts on the tech talk), but some stuff came up, followed by packing most of my belongings into boxes for my move to Seattle. I have a few sundry things to finish packing, doing one last lunch with the ‘rents, and then off I go into the wild blue yonder! Should be an interesting drive across the country (it being an exceptionally snowy winter in parts that I’m going to have to drive through), but I’m feeling pretty good about it. Nervous about the move, as it’s a real leap of faith, and I haven’t really put myself together for it, but it’s time to do it regardless.

I don’t have much time at the moment to write more than this, but I did want to let people know that I’m off and running, and may be highly sporadic in where I pop up for the next week or two while I drive out and get an apartment. (Honestly, I’ll probably have great connectivity on the drive, given the prevalence of wireless networks in hotels nowadays!)

Leopard and You

I’m currently sitting in the conference room of the Hilton in Dedham, waiting for the Mac OS X Leopard Tech Talk to start (it’s a developer seminar previewing the new stuff coming up in 10.5… they did one for 10.4 as well that I made it to). I’m still pretty pleased that I managed to make it here, as they really are a lot of fun, and I like knowing things, even if I don’t really get a chance to make much use of it. I won’t necessarily be liveblogging the event (some of this is still under NDAs), but I will try to give a general sense of what’s coming up without getting in trouble with Apple’s legal department. It’s really nice sitting here and seeing dozens and dozens of MacBooks, Powerbooks, and MacBook Pros, and logging into the complimentary available wireless network and seeing everyone up via Bonjour. If I were a bit more adventurous, I’d even try IMing people.

[Update: 2 PM They were quite happy to point out that yes, a lot of this is under NDA, and if things are leaked, they don’t get to continue doing these, so please bear in mind that there’s a LOT of information here that I just can’t go into detail about.

My first session was the introduction to the seminar, which covered basic sales numbers, general updates about the application, and then showcased some shiny new features that are definitely pretty exciting. I’m feeling pretty good about what’s changing in printing, and I’d say those of you who are worried about it changing should be well pleased with what’s being done. Core Animation is showing a lot of potential, and a lot of it has already been integrated in ways that you may not really realize: it’s not meant to just be a shiny, a lot of the time animation is a subtle thing to enhance the user experience, to make the UI more clear in what’s happening. An example is the dock, already: if you drag an application icon around on the dock, things move and shift out of the way. It makes it immediately clear where and what’s happening. In 10.5, developers will be able to leverage a lot more of that sort of animation capability for “free”. I’m really excited about some of the new graphics related toolkits that they highlighted.

My second session was an introduction to Xcode 3.0 and Interface Builder 3.0. I’ve got to say, I’m quite impressed with the new features. I like what they’ve done to streamline the workflow, and the new interface builder is sharp, and seems a bit more intuitive. It’s also apparently significantly more extensible than the old version. A lot of the information is available on the developer site, and I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you’re interested in using OS X as a developer platform.

My third session was “Modern OpenGL”, and it was a treasure trove for my particular field of interest — game development. They’re expanding their support of OpenGL, and some of the features they’ve added have already begun to show a marked increase in speed in existing apps: adding multithreading support on the graphics side to a popular game I play gave a 90% frames per second increase. Some of the example apps were crazy impressive in what they were able to pull off, and easily half to two thirds of the presentation covered ways to modernize OpenGL code and optimize it for performance. Some really nice caveats to remember (I have them written down) if I get back into programming.

I’m taking a break at the moment to let my battery charge, but at 3:15, there’s a session on what’s new in Cocoa that I’d really like to attend. Hoping to attend the sessions on Resolution Independence and Printing in Leopard after that, since those are things that are directly relevant to both myself and others I know. Then there’s just the reception and a chance to shmooze with folks before heading back north. Pretty fun day, all told. Kudos to Apple for hosting it!]

One Dog Night

It doesn’t really feel like it’s been that many days since I last posted, though I think that may have something to do with how much I’ve been sleeping lately. It’s finally become cold, which makes it remarkably desirable to stay in bed. Freya seems to agree, and has spent a good portion of the past few days curled up next to me on the couch for warmth (while not necessarily cold in the house, you can’t help but feel it). I’m grateful for the company, and will miss her when I move back to Seattle (she’ll be staying with my parents).

Another non-productive thing that has been devouring my time has been World of Warcraft… the expansion came out yesterday morning (or Tuesday night depending on your perspective and availability of midnight launch parties), and I’ve been having fun exploring and trying out the new races. I must say, at first blush I’m really enjoying the Draenei (the new Alliance race), and have been running around beating on things as a paladin. The starting area is lush and interesting, and the quests are fun (the starter fishing quest is called “Red Snapper — Very Tasty!” to give an idea of the sort of geek humor that runs through a lot of these). Definitely recommend it if you’re at all interested in WoW.

In the next week and a half, I have a certification test (getting Apple certified, test is Friday, wish me luck), a developer seminar, and need to pack up… well, damn near everything I own, to prep for moving to Seattle on the 30th. My experience from observing my brother’s move, and then experiencing our move back east last year, it’s arguably less work and equivalent (or less) money to just pack everything in boxes before I leave and then once I get an apartment set up out there, have everything shipped FedEx or UPS. That way I only need to bring some basic essentials with me in the car. It also helps that a ton of my stuff is still in a storage unit in Seattle, which I’ll also be emptying once I have an apartment to put it all in.

I’m looking forward to having all my stuff in one spot again. It’ll be nice to go back and watch some of the DVDs that have been sitting in storage for the past year and a half. I’m also looking forward to being on my own again, with my own place. Once I get things squared away, I’m hoping to also start taking a language class (probably either French or Japanese, both have been on my list), and possibly Tai Chi if I can find it and it works with whatever my schedule turns out to be. It may seem a little silly to talk about wanting to go do things that take money when I haven’t even lined up work yet, but considering I don’t drink, bars and clubs don’t hold much interest to me, which makes classes more than just education — they’re also a way to meet people (something I’m notoriously bad at). So, yeah, excited about the move. A little scared about it, too. I hope it proves to be a good opportunity to clear my head and get motivated.

Spreading the Love

I’ve got a few things I want to talk about today. First and foremost, I’d like to point out my friend Beth’s blog, Wandering in the Midwest, which has been an excellent and rewarding read so far. She’s in the process of doing a semester doing art of and about the wildlife and surroundings around where she grew up in Minnesota. She a damned talented artist, so it’s a real treat to get access to a workblog like this. (Fair warning: it’s not as bad as some, but it IS an image-heavy blog, so 56k-ers beware!)

Switching to an entirely different topic, I finally managed to see A Scanner Darkly this evening (I missed it by one day in the theaters… there was much gnashing of teeth, I assure you). Let me just say that while I wouldn’t use it for every movie, I am damn impressed with the rotoscoping techniques they used to animate the movie. Visually, it was a real treat, and narratively, it was an enjoyable rendering of a somewhat bittersweet Philip K. Dick novel (who, while more than a little crazy, was a brilliant writer), even choosing to show the dedication Dick had at the end of the book. The story deals with drugs but isn’t about drugs… the drug itself is imaginary (so far), and serves more as a catalyst for the real story: the progressive deterioration of the mind of the protagonist. Well worth watching, and I highly recommend watching it at your earliest convenience. (For those who are wondering what the hell I’m talking about, the trailer can be found here.)

I’m in the process of gathering budget and information for my move back to Seattle at the end of the month. I won’t be leaving the area until probably the 30th, but given how I drive, that should put me back on the west coast no later than the 4th or 5th. So, sometime between now and then, I need to finish a number of things, pack, and other prepwork. If we’ve been meaning to hang out but have been slackers about making it happen, ping me ASAP and I’ll make time, damnit.

My wireless perch is closing up for the night, so I’m going to have to wrap things up, but I would like to say that I’m really excited about the Apple Tech Talk next week, and both excited and nervous as hell about the move back to Seattle.

On Links and MUDs

Ancient “Warrior” Found in Permafrost, found via Warren Ellis. That man is a treasure trove of neat esoterica (which as I’ve discussed before, I’m rather fond of myself). Also found via his site, I’ve added myself to MyBlogLog, which is a method to track users and links and in general help form the idea of a community a bit. I’d love to find a non-feedburner solution to tracking unique rss users as well…

Sorry for the hiatus from posting. I’ve kept to my goal of writing something every day, it just happened to not include posting on here… I’ve been working on a few projects for AvatarMUD the past few nights, involving some tweaks we’ve discussed doing, as well as a new area (and thinking about what I’d like to do to an old one). None of them are done, but I’m taking a breather for a bit, especially since those “tweaks” involve a lot of number crunching, and I’ve been going a bit cross-eyed with it. Avatar and I have somthing of an odd sort of interaction. I’ve been a player there for nearly a decade now, and an administrator for nearly as long. It’s seen me through several relationships, a marriage, a divorce, and several substantial moves. I’ve graduated both high school and college while there, and it’s even been integrated into some of my work (like my Online Communities paper). I’ve made friends through it, I have friends who even got married after meeting through it. It’s an important part of my life.

Don’t get me wrong, though, it does have its problems. I’m not going to get into details at the moment (though I’ve been thinking long and hard on doing a postmortem-like writeup at some point), but there’s definitely room for continued improvement, and some of those frustrations have encouraged some time distancing myself from the MUD. I never fully left, but it would be hard to argue that I didn’t take at least something of a sabbatical. I’m in something of an upswing in activity on the MUD right now, mentoring one of the new imms, writing, and working on a few projects. One of the biggest things I’m doing though (and reasons I’m back in this surge) is that I’ve taken on something of a Don Quixote role. My particular windmills fall into staff-to-staff and staff-to-player transparency, in terms of taking the time to actually communicate first with the general staff, and then also being more open with our players. I’ve also been pushing for more attention being given to casual players, as there has been a slow but steady trend towards “hardcore” (on all the time, min/maxing your stats and equipment, etc) players. I strongly feel that a healthy game is served best by maintaining a balance of both.

I’m not trying to toot my own horn by saying I’m pushing for these things. There’s been a lot of quiet support among staff and players, and I’m definitely not the only one speaking up and pushing for these things. It’s been energizing, nonetheless.

Links for the Moment

A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods, discovered via Chris Pelsor’s snogblog. For those of you who dig on this sort of stuff, it’s totally a good find, lots of good information.

How To Be Friends With Your Ex is a good read, kind of relevant to me personally. There’s a lot to the whole notion of staying friends with an ex. My own personal philosophy stems from the idea that just because a relationship is ending, it doesn’t mean you suddenly stop loving someone. I still love all my exes, there’s no doubt in my mind about that. My opinion is that it’s a heck of a lot easier to process the loss of the relationship if you’re not trying to also suddenly “un-love” someone. Acknowledge that you still love them, and that they still love you, but that the relationship wasn’t working out. Something to consider is that you started dating this person because you felt they were good people. I won’t say that there aren’t some wolves masquerading as sheep so to speak, but generally, if you trust your judge of character elsewhere, you should trust it in this as well. If you trust your judge of character and believe that they’re good people, then why should that abruptly change because they’ve decided the relationship wasn’t working out? If you can accept that they’re still good people, but simply couldn’t remain in the relationship (for any number of reasons), then it becomes a LOT easier to become friends again a hell of a lot sooner. It’s a lot better in the long run, in my opinion, to change the nature of your love (from more eros to an agape-centric love), than to try and kill all feelings for someone and then maybe become friends at some distant future point.

There’s a lot more to all that than I’m really writing down, but for now that will have to do. It’s already a kind of cluttered explanation, but until I sit down and let it percolate for a while, I don’t think I’m going to do better.

What a Day

I know I said I was aiming for a lengthier post, but it ended up not happening. Today kind of sucked to be honest. My friend Eli finally updated his blog, but for a really unfortunate reason. I had a big fight with someone I love very much, which resulted in me realizing just how broken I am and choosing to walk away for both our good. I found out that my friend and former classmate Justin Kautz was killed in an avalanche on Friday out in Jackson Hole. It’s sort of a fitting way to go, given his love of the mountains and skiing, but still really really unfortunate. He was a hell of a person, one of the few genuinely nice guys. Last time I’d touched base with him, he was working on a book (a collection of short stories) out in Jackson Hole. Ironically, I was just thinking about getting ahold of him to see how it was coming a week or so ago. It may be something of a pipe dream, but I hope things were done enough to be published posthumously… I think he would have wanted that. He’ll definitely be missed. Requiescat in pace.

Home Again

I’m a bit wiped at the moment, but I did want to officially report my return to the Upper Valley. The drive from DC to Vermont went surprisingly quickly, listening to my collection of King Crimson with the sunroof open in the 70 degree air. I haven’t taken an exact total, but I drove roughly 4000 miles in just under a week… not too shabby, if I say so myself. It felt really good to have some time with the road. I’ve mentioned before that it’s a meditation for me, but it’s also a catharsis. If I don’t get on the road every so often, I get stircrazy and depressed. (Not saying I’m not depressed anymore, but it did help. Any time where you’re alone with your thoughts for an extended period is something of a double edged sword, but on the whole I think it did more help than harm.)

I’d like to sit down and write something a bit more substantial about the trip sometime soon… maybe for tomorrow’s post, once I’ve had a chance to slow down and rest for a bit.