Mass Effect: Holy Freaking Crap

picture-7.pngI figured I’d have some “me” time this weekend, so I picked up a copy of the highly praised Mass Effect. Saying it’s good is obvious; awesome is an understatement. Groin-grabbingly enthralling, genre-shattering entertainment is somewhere in the neighborhood. We’re talking a contender for best video game ever here. So if you’re last minute Christmas shopping for a 360 owner (possibly yourself), I can’t recommend Mass Effect highly enough.

The gameplay itself is difficult to describe. Take the fun parts of leveling, storyline, voice acting and small squad combat RPG elements from Baldur’s Gate, the pace, feel and vehicle action of a FPS squad combat shooter, and drop that into an incredibly rich sci-fi backdrop of a Star Trek episode. Awesome sauce!

Penguin Pimp

picture-5.pngI Celebrated my friend Gilraen’s birthday by molding figurines out of Sculpey, which turned out to be an excellent party activity. Karen started off with a cute penguin body, but somehow we ended up with a pimp: complete with hat, cane and technicolor dream coat. There are.. hmm.. “other” complementary figurines, but I’ll refrain from sharing those pictures in the name of cleanliness. Maybe the wine had something to do with it? Whatever.. good times 🙂

Invited To The Pentagon

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Mugr.com was recently invited to the Pentagon to demo our facial recognition voodoo as a potential biometric component to TIDES: Transportable Infrastructures for Development and Emergency Support. It was a very last minute trip with very little instruction and direction regarding what to prepare, so we packed up our Mactops and hopped on a plane.

The subway ride at 5-something AM local time (3AM at home) after an all-nighter came cold and early, and shuttled a variety of more well-rested military types, who periodically would share a silent glance as if to say “OMG U N00B.” (Yes, in all capital letters with no exclamation point.) The guest check-in process was straightforward, and we soon found ourselves inside a small tent-like shelter booting our Macs if for no other reason than to warm our hands.

The event itself brought in a diverse mix of (mostly) military, many of whom were happy to engage in our biometrics demo and subsequent discussion. I had many wonderful conversations with Dr. John Francis of the U.N. and many DoD personnel over at least a half pot of coffee. A fabulous experience, this goes to show how huge opportunities can spring up whenever, wherever.

Would you risk your time, reputation and money for the opportunity? I know I’m game.

6 Things I'm Thankful For

Bread BowlAn awesome first business year for OpenRain. The constant stress of context switching between software projects has become more managable, making weekend relaxation slightly more frequent. Marc has been a geeky Asian version of Superman, and our part-time office manager Gracie has been a godsend. Business has been great, and 2008 should be an exciting growth period.

Bread bowls. Especially the kind filled with Cream of Broccoli soup.

Not being poor. It’s easy to forget all the small luxuries afforded by a modest middle-class suburban family. Indoor plumbing, internet access, telephones, health care, shelter, affordable schooling… these aren’t common in many parts of the world.

Loads of opportunities. One of the most motivating and simultaneously scary realities of running your own software company today is knowing you hold all the keys to your own future. There are so few barriers (especially economic) to today’s start-up that there is little excuse for not taking the risks and giving it your all. This year alone I’ve gotten to go to L.A., Washington D.C., England, San Francisco, Mendocino (California), Amsterdam, Austin, Baja and Portland off the top of my head. (Note to self: redeem those frequent flier miles!)

Cheese. I’m a huge sucker for bree and havarti.

The awesome people around me. Support structure is fundamental to success, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have a great one. Y’all know who you are!

It’s been a superb 2007. Cheers to an even better 2008!

Switching To Dvorak

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After years of deliberation, I’m finally taking this Thanksgiving break to switch to the Dvorak keyboard layout. It’s been frustrating, yes, but I believe my wrists will be much better off with the change. Within a couple hours of switching I’m probably crawling at ~15 words per minute, which is faster than I expected. Stuff that still throws me off due to being permanently etched in muscle memory..

  • My name.
  • `cd` and my custom `ls` aliases.
  • OpenRain.
  • . (period)
  • Common commands such as cut/copy/paste, closing and opening files etc.
  • The letter ‘o’ for some reason.

Ohh, and I switched my command and caps lock keys too, so my brain is a tad bit overloaded at the moment 🙂

Rails Presentation: attachment_fu, Kropper and Mugr.com face-based services preview.

I’m giving a brief talk at tonight’s Rails meeting in Chandler at 7:00pm on what we’re doing with attachment_fu and Kropper for upcoming face-based search service mugr.com. I’ll post the slides afterwards for those who can’t make it, but you won’t get to see the Über-secret developer build unless you come 🙂

Slides: Keynote PDF

Lala.com Review: Legal Web 2.0 Music Trading

lala.gifLala.com is an online service for trading physical discs. After entering information on your current CD collection, what CDs you want, and receiving a free shipping kit of envelops and plastic disc carriers via postal mail, you simply start sending discs out as they are requested. Other users do the same, and the system handles the logistics and billing. You may start sending out CDs as soon as you receive the shipping kit to build trading credits, even if you do not yet have discs in your want list. Your credit card is automatically charged a total of $1.75 per CD you receive on a monthly basis.

I’ve been using it for months now and over 20 trades, and am pleased to report near complete success. On one occasion I did not receive a disc, but this was easy to report. I was never billed for the missing disc and never had to deal with the supposed sender personally. Overall I’ve had a pleasant experience and would recommend it to anyone looking to trade CDs with a minimum of hassle.

Props to lala for a great, legal idea!

SRP Time-of-Use Plan Hourly Price Change Reminder

To those on SRP’s time-of-use plan, reprogram your thermostats! On May 1st we’ll be entering into the expensive months.

  • 1pm – 8pm weekdays are “on-peak”: 17.83¢/kWh.
  • All other hours and holidays are “off-peak”: 4.88¢/kWh.

From here. If you live in a hot area and do not have a programmable thermostat, you absolutely must get one. If you live in Phoenix you’ll more than recoup the cost in a single summer.